As children begin school they spend less time with parents, and their friends become more important. Youth begin to create their own identity through what they do, where they go, and who they know. Often teens with low self-esteem or high anxiety will seek a “quick fix” of approval from a peer group. However, if children have been given strategies early in life to deal with tough decisions, they will be able to face these tests with good results.
Early in life, children should be given smaller decisions to make (which shirt to wear, which game to play, how to arrange their room). Children who have been allowed to experiment with and learn that decisions have consequences are better able as teens to make tougher decisions! Parents who always TELL their children what to do and control their behaviour with no choice by the child are preparing their children to listen to others without ever developing an inner voice to guide them for a lifetime.
Here are some essential tips-:
– Stay involved and connected. Talk and listen to your children. Know their friends, their school experience, and what their world is like. Parents busy with work and children busy with school activities have very little time to interact. That’s why it takes special effort. Here are some suggestions for connecting with your child:
– Be a sounding board. Make it clear that you are willing to listen.
– Use everyday family activities to stay close. Making dinner, running errands, taking a walk can all be turned into quality family time.
– Build in extra time to “check-in” at bedtime. Do not assume your child has outgrown this important bedtime ritual.
– Use notes, bulletin boards, and even e-mail to communicate with each other.
– Get to know your child’s friends by inviting them to your home and on family outings.