||While adolescence is an exciting time in kids’ lives, most are under a lot of stress and often lack coping mechanisms. It’s one of the most anxious and vulnerable times in a person’s life and earlier sexual initiation, depression, suicide, an absence of role models, eating disorders, family instability and drug and alcohol abuse produce a lot of anxiety. Adolescence is a place where values and self-esteem are challenged and the pressures to fit in can be overwhelming.
It’s particularly hard for girls, and as parents it’s important to trust that the values you instilled, empower them to be true to themselves. Girls as young as 9 years of age are dieting and equating happiness with how they look. Not conforming to group pressure could mean exclusion. Does that mean giving in to group pressure compels girls to deny their authenticity? At times, it does.
How do we offer our young people the support they need? What types of interventions can we provide? How do we create a positive environment? How can you ensure that they know they have options to say “yes” or “no?”
Like it or not the opinions of peers weigh in a lot stronger than those of parents. The kids your children hang out with will either have a positive or negative influence on them and their behavior. Hoping for the best just won’t cut it!
Today, more than ever, you need to stay close to your kids.
A few notes:
- Dialogue with them and show an interest in their interests. Give them room to express their feelings.
- Get to know their friends.
- Set down some boundaries and house rules and responsibilities together and decide on the consequences if they are not maintained.
- Role model kindness and respectful behavior.
- Let your kids know how much you love them and how much they mean to you – no matter what.
- As difficult as it may be sometimes, try to find that delicate balance between love, authority and consistency.
- Listen carefully and listen between the lines.
- Remember that you are the parent.