One of the most challenging times for kids is their tween and teen years. Changes happen rapidly within them and around them. Kids often feel unsure and unsteady. Yet when we understand their biggest struggles, we can also help them find a firm foundation to keep them strong. Here are three things to look out for and four ways you can help:
Teens and tweens biggest struggles:
Tweens and teens are in the midst of growing and changing. Their body is different than it was a year ago, and it will be even more different in the year to come. Often they feel insecure about the changes. Even harder is when they compare themselves to others. The voice in their heads proclaim, “You’d be better or prettier if…” It’s hard not to compare.
Parents’ unrealistic expectations.
The truth is that we often expect too much. We expect our tween and teens to never be in a bad mood or be disappointed. We want them to do everything on time and to the best of their ability. Too often we are setting standards that even we can’t live up to.
Tweens and teens want to fit in. They’re worried about what others think of them. Wanting to be like their friends, tweens and teens often do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. In their longing to feel accepted and valued, they act uncharacteristically, do risky things, or break the rules.
How to help:
Model right thinking, speaking and actions.
Our children learn how to act and react by watching us. When we can be positive about our bodies and talents then our kids can do the same. We can also be encouraging and point out what our kids are doing well. When we act and speak positively they will learn to do the same. Most importantly, our tweens and teens need to see us turning to God’s Word for help and answers. As we read, we can point out how God’s Word transforms our thoughts, words and actions.
Unshakable Hope Promise Book: Student Edition is the newest book from Max Lucado. Max does a wonderful job of showing us how God has kept His promises in the lives of His people for all of history. Stories, Scripture, and journaling questions all point teens and tweens toward a life of trusting God and His promises.
Watch out for struggles.
Parents need to be aware of a child’s mood. It’s easy to know that something’s wrong if your child is loud, angry and explosive, but if he suddenly withdraws, it’s important to draw near to your child in order to discover what’s going on in his mind and heart. If your child starts disconnecting and appears moody, he may be having struggles.. When you are tuned into your child, you’re able to approach him and seek to discover the problem.
One of the best things we can offer to our kids is ourselves and time to talk.
When we talk to our kids about every day, ordinary things it’ll be easier to talk to them when the challenging stuff comes up. It’s important to share about our teen years and our same struggles. We can even show how we currently balance being ourselves and trying to fit in with others.
Be thankful and grace-filled.
Point out what your kids are doing right. Celebrate their natural abilities. Point out times they show God’s character, love others, and serve God. Also, read about God’s love and grace in His Word. The more tweens and teens understand who God is and how He can help them, the more they will have a strong foundation to stand on.
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Do you have a tween or teen in the house? What hardships are they facing and how do you relate to them? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.