By Alicia Grace
Achieving independence is a crucial part of your teen’s journey to becoming a responsible adult. That is why every parent needs to give their teenage children the freedom, and necessary tools to make this journey successfully and efficiently. In other words, you need to entrust your teenager with the freedom to try new things, make mistakes and learn how to handle challenges on her own.
It certainly feels good (and somewhat right) to hold on tight to your child. Don’t sweat it – most parents do that; it’s that instinctive desire to envelop your kid in protection that made you the superhero mom or dad. However, as your child advances towards adulthood, it is high-time you let go. After all, this is the time kids get the urge to leave the nest and chart their own course.
To become responsible and capable adults, teenagers must learn to:
- Solve problems and make decisions on their own
- Take on more responsibilities in their lives and depend on your less often
- Build resilience and cultivate good life values on their own
- Form and nurture their own personalities and identities
However, teens still require support and guidance as well.
Here are some parenting tips and ideas to help you strike the right balance and support your teenager’s growing need for independence.
#1. Plan Ahead
You need to confront the fear that your life will be empty without your child in it right from the outset. That is why it pays to plan ahead and get used to the feeling. Sure, the transition will not be a picnic, but it becomes more comfortable and more bearable if you start preparing yourself psychologically and physically. It’ll show your child what an adult life looks like.
#2. Make Her Understand What It Means and Feels to be Independent
You need to be at the forefront when it comes to putting things into perspective for your child. Remember teens are just beginning to understand and explore things and people around them. So, this is the most critical time to instill a sense of duty and responsibility in your teen to make her stronger and a grow to become a better individual as an adult.
With that said, it is vital as a parent to explain to her that she must do things independently and exercise her ability to make sound decisions. Half the battle is making your teen want to be ‘independent.’
#3. Show your Child Plenty of Support and Love
Support and love are two building blocks for a kid’s self-esteem. A young person who feels loved usually has more confidence to take risks, try out things, and discover who she is, and what she wants to do with her life. As you might have already noticed, teenagers do not seem to want much of physical affection from you; but you can show you true love and support by:
- Being a good listen when she wants to express herself or just needs to talk
- Taking a genuine interest in your kid’s hobbies, friends, and interests
- Giving her the freedom, privacy, and space that she needs
- Saying “I love you” often
#4. Respect Her Opinions and Feelings
Your child might start distancing herself, but remember you remain the primary source of her emotional stability and guidance during this period. So, attempt to tune into your teen’s feelings, but don’t go overboard. The chances are that your kid is a little confused and may be upset by the social, physical, and emotional changes of teenhood.
Not only is it crucial for you to respect these feelings, but also take her opinions with the respect and seriousness it deserves. By doing so, you’ll be boosting her self-esteem as well as encouraging her to embrace being independent. It also helps to remember that even your child has a different perspective on things in life. More importantly, you can talk about your own feelings and opinions calmly to keep the channels of communication open.
#5. Come up with clear yet fair rules
Even though you want your child to become independent, it also helps to establish clear family rules about communication, behavior and socializing. As such, these rules will help your teen know what to expect and where you draw a line in the sand. As a parent, family rules will help you become consistent in how you handle your kid.
The trouble is that most parents set unfair family rules which can cause more harm than good. If you come up with too strict limits, your teenager will not have enough wiggle room to try new things, grow, and become independent. Remember this period offer significant learning opportunities for both of you.
Your teen is still working himself or herself out. He or she probably does not know who they are. You and your child are both on a learning curve. You need to balance your parental guidance and their growing need for independence. So, go easy on them and yourself if things are not going well all the time.