To do or not to do. That is the question teens are facing today.
Drugs, sex, and alcohol are among the scariest choices teens are making in our society. Many parents are scared senseless, not knowing if their teen will succumb to these bad decisions. Some are not even sure if teens, with their limited experience, are capable of making responsible choices.
But, are they?
Yes! Teens are capable of making responsible choices. This, however, only comes with support, trust, and respect from their parents, and practice and an understanding of their value system.
Parents often feel concerned about their teens for having to make so many life-path choices. Most teens that are given the opportunity to make age-appropriate choices in childhood however, are able to handle the more difficult decisions as they grow up. They learn from previous successes and failures and build self-confidence that they are able to take care of themselves. It’s a learning process that creates a feeling of empowerment.
Making choices are a part of life. And that’s a good thing! Choices give your teen freedom and the opportunity to fulfill personal desires (if they make responsible decisions of course).
4 Influencers of smart teen choices:
1. Quality of connection with parents: The quality of the relationship kids have with their parents plays a big role in the choices they make as teens and adults. The choices teens make reflect their psychological needs and wants. If parents meet the emotional and psychological needs of their kids, their kids are less likely to search for fillers outside the home by engaging in random sex, addictions, and negative relationships.
2. Ability to deal with stress: Stress exists in life. That is not the issue. The issue lies in whether or not teens can deal with it. Teens that don’t have the skills to deal with stress are more likely to avoid it by searching for any type of ‘fun’ distractions. When teens are looking for diversions they are more likely to make questionable choices.
3. Level of independence: Whether or not teens are allowed to make age-appropriate choices throughout their life (e.g., what colour of backpack, which shoes to wear, etc.) makes a big difference in how they approach decision-making. Teens that have parents who make all the decision feel lost when parents are no longer making choices for them. Good choice making is acquired through practice not through mindless observation. The more choices kids make throughout life the less they are to mindlessly follow the crowd. It’s important for teens to be encouraged to think through their choices as opposed to waiting for instructions on what to do next.
4. Values: Values are often spoken about, but for some reason taken lightly. There aren’t many people who would be able to list their values, especially teens. When values are known they have the ability to influence choices for the better. When they aren’t known, teen’s misaligned choices leave teens feeling unfulfilled and empty.
Best Wishes To You and Your Family!
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto