This is no different from any other aspect of life. If you are preparing to run in a marathon, your training will focus on endurance running. On the other hand, if you are preparing to compete in a chess tournament your training will involve studying common chessboard strategy, and improving your ability to think three or four moves ahead in the game. Running several miles each day in order to prepare for a chess match…. Well, not too helpful.
So what challenges do teens face? To get a clear answer to this question we need to realize that this period of time is the “launchpad” to adulthood. The youngster who recently enjoyed playing with Legos or dolls is now immersed in the business of preparing for adulthood.
The teen’s job during these years is to:
- Begin to make independent decisions
- Select life goals
- Grow more responsible
- Find a path in life that fits with his/her abilities and interests
- Develop mature and supportive relationships with peers
- Learn how to understand and relate to the opposite sex
- Figure out how to maintain a close relationship with parents while still becoming increasingly independent.
- Deal appropriately to the rapid physical transformation of their body
There is no other time in an individual’s life where so many changes are required of an individual in such a short period of time. In case things are not already dicey enough, added to all of this are the following:
- A massively heightened sense of insecurity (found in most teens)
- A belief that the world revolves around oneself
- A growing desire to distance oneself from parental influence
- An influx of hormones.
This begins to sound like a wizard’s brew designed to drive both teens and parents to the limits of crazy land. The good news. It doesn’t have to go down that road!
What Teens Need To Successfully Navigate The Adolescent Years
To travel through adolescence and succeed, to traverse these years and remain close to parents and experience minimal drama, a few basic skills must be firmly developed ahead of time.
These skills, or aptitudes, include the ability to avoid falling into the following traps:
- Giving in to peer pressure in order to be “cool” or popular
- Acting on emotion rather than reason
- Lack of focus – chasing the newest ‘shining object’
- Feelings of profound inadequacy (which may lead to a poor choice friends, drug/alcohol abuse, self-harm)
- Failure to consider the advice of trusted adults
- Combative attitude toward parents
When the skills needed to avoid these pitfalls are taught from an early age, they are more likely to become deeply rooted in a child’s character. They become second nature. This makes it easier to resist the pressures mentioned above that every teen faces.
How To Prepare For Adolescence
What can you do to help your child be ready for the challenges that lie ahead? Several things. Some are easy, others are more challenging, but none of them require superhuman skills. Here is a brief list.
1. Let your child fail.
Yes, I know, you’ve heard it before – but let it sink in. All of us parents know we need to do this, and all of us hate letting our children fail.
Even so, we know deep down that setbacks in life are inevitable. They are something each of us faces from time to time. Learning to experience failure, and have it neither define nor defeat you, is how one grows stronger. It is an essential skill for living a successful life.