Amy Kelly is the CEO of Parent eSource, the global resource, community, and social media trending firm she founded in 2010 to transform the communication between parents and their children. Parent eSource has achieved stunning results by helping countless parents better understand the changing world their teens live in and providing innovative resources to help parents connect with their connected teens Amy has established her revolutionary perspective, resources and technology and is a sought after expert in sharing her insight and parental connection advice.
There is one common word that can describe every single teenager in America: changing. When you combine growing minds, changing bodies and raging hormones with friends, family issues, school and new relationships, it’s no wonder why the teenage years can be so hard. While breaking through the barrier between childhood and adulthood, teens can have a harder time coping with life changes and may begin to question themselves, their future and their beliefs.
As parents, it is important to be there for your teen through all of the ups and downs of this roller coaster ride we call adolescence.
New Beginnings: When a roller coaster begins, it brings butterflies and excitement to all passengers, ready and waiting for what lies ahead. This happens over and over again for teenagers. New friends, budding romances, a developing talent or skill begins with unprecedented optimism. Teenagers beginning something new are excited about what might lie ahead for them, but they still need advice from someone who has been down the road before. Use this time of enthusiasm for counsel and advice, encourage their optimism, be their cheerleader and help them to remain balanced.
The Upward Climb: Every roller coaster has an upward climb that makes you think you’re on a simply scenic joyride, it’s usually calm and slow, without a lot of jerks and turns. During this time, your teen is comfortable, relaxed and life seems to be going along smoothly. Grades are up, friends are good, moods are positive and it’s time to kick back, right? Wrong. Don’t lose effort during this time and think your job is done. This is the best time to nurture your relationship, spend time together, talk about day-to-day activities. It is during this time that you build your relationship so that you can have a foundation to build off of when the hard times come ahead.
The Downward Spiral: This is the gut-wrenching part of the roller coaster when teenagers need parents more than ever. The downward spiral might include particularly painful events, death of friends or family, depression, drug use, academic failure or self-destructive behaviors. If you suspect the beginning of a downward spiral, don’t ignore it. Let your teen know you care, put aside the yelling or nagging and calmly express your love and concern. If you are concerned about addictions or life-threatening behavior, it might be time to enlist additional help from a counselor or religious leader. The good news is often times a downward spiral can end with a new beginning, consider different “new beginning” possibilities that may help your teen break their spiral cycle.
Every Roller Coaster is Different: Just like every child, every roller coaster is different. Your daughter might spend most of her years in the upward climb and have only a short downward spiral, your son might spend most of his time in a downward spiral leaving you feeling hopeless. It is important to remember that your teen needs you regardless of the phase they are in because they simply do not have the brain power, the knowledge or the experience to handle life in the same way an adult would. When your family experiences changes, be sure to pay special attention to your teen. In the same way that you made sure they had enough to eat when they were a 3-year-old, be sure that you stay in tune with the changes they are going through. No teenager should be riding their roller coaster alone, so buckle up and hold on for the ride.
What does your roller coaster look like? Do you feel like you’re riding two or three simultaneously? How have you helped your teen transition out of a downward spiral by exploring new beginnings?
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