Skip to content

Thriving In The Teen Years: 5 Crucial Pieces Of Advice

Thriving In The Teen Years

“Parenting teenagers” my brother once said, “Is God’s way of helping parents prepare for the empty nest…. because you start to long for the nest to be empty!” I’m not sure this is entirely true, but I do know those parenting teenagers require patience, firmness, and grace all mixed together.

Although adolescence is a relatively brief period of time, it often gives rise to emotional extremes that include excitement, anxiety, hope, elation, frustration, and despair (and that’s just for the parent!).

Every teen, in the span of a few short years, is required to make the leap from childhood to young adulthood. Where else in one’s life is so much expected in such a short time? With great challenges come great stressors, and the potential for even greater mistakes.

Everyone knows of a teen (usually of several teens) who, when faced with this pressure, made unwise decisions that led to crushing heartbreak. There are, however, ways to minimize the chance that one will suffer these sorts of setbacks. If a teen will follow the five rules set out below, really take them to heart and apply them consistently, adolescence will be a time of healthy growth, strength, and yes, even wonder.

Related: 100 Questions To Ask Your Teen Other Than “How Was School?”

5 Crucial Pieces Of Advice For Thriving In Teen Years

1. Find Trusted Mentors.

The few short years it takes to travel between the eastern shores of childhood and the western shores of young adulthood are a time of both great excitement and confusion. It is not unlike trying to take a boat across the Colorado River, going from one side to the other. Exhilarating and frightening. The main thing is to cross safely, to get to the other side. If you do so without too many bumps and bruises, you’ll come away stronger.

But how to do so? Just as one would when navigating the Colorado River rapids, so too one must when navigating adolescence: rely on those who have previously made the crossing. Who would these be? Adults. Best of all trusted adults. Parents, teachers, youth ministers, the parents of friends, etc.

No matter their age these adults remember well the trials of this crossing. The ones you want to trust are those that are sympathetic to the challenges you face, confident in your ability to succeed, and excited for the journey upon which you have embarked. It may not be ‘cool’ to lean in on adults, these experienced river guides, but it is wise.

2. Resist Peer Pressure.

The temptation to follow the crowd will be particularly great during adolescence. Resist with all your might. Most of the pressure, nearly all of it, is applied by young people who are feeling even more insecure than you. By giving in you momentarily win the approval of your peers (or at least avoid their disapproval), but you lose a little bit of yourself.

How so? If by following peer pressure you turn your back on what you hold to be right and true, then you’ve turned your back on an essential part of who you are… your ideals. So, hang on more tightly to your ideals than to acceptance by peers.

Related: 20 Greatest Teen Movies Every Teenager Will Relate To

3. Be A Person Of High Principle.

If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out the advice given in number two above, the following should help. Your happiness in life will largely depend on what you hold to be fundamentally true:

  • Is there a God and if so what is he like?
  • What are the highest expressions of love?
  • Are honesty, courage, compassion, loyalty and other virtues required of me, or simply qualities that might be good to cultivate?

Now it’s perfectly true that knowing what is good and beautiful will not guarantee a happy life, but it’s also true that if one is unable to recognize the good, unable to identify genuine beauty, and confused about what are good values versus bad, then he or she has little hope of achieving a deeply happy life.

This is no different than expecting that someone who could not recognize gold would become a successful gold miner. So spend some time reflecting on the higher things in life, determining what is good, and what is worth investing the capital of your energies and passions pursuing. Then think back to peer pressure and read again that advice. It may make more sense.

4. Don’t Let The Trials And Tribulations Of This Brief Time In Your Life Cause You To Doubt Yourself.

Everyone who crosses the rapids of adolescence has moments of doubt, fatigue, and fear. That’s to be expected, but these states of mind need not take root. The anecdote is to keep close to those who believe in you and care for you most deeply. Be they, family or friends, keep these supports near – don’t push them away when tempted to do so (and there will be times when you are tempted to do just that).

Develop habits, or routines, that include meaningful time together with those who support you. Whether this includes regular coffee dates, ‘friends only Fridays’, or whatever you wish, keep them close and let them know when you need support. And if you are a believer, then obviously the one you need to keep closest to is Christ. He would let you know that “Life is tough, and the teen years are difficult, but you’re just great by me.”

Related: 11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

5. Have Fun.

In fact, have a blast. Sure, be responsible, be smart, follow the rules, and so forth…. But enjoy yourself. Don’t get so focused on how rough the water is, how fast the current runs, and how far the shore looks from where you sit that you lose the capacity to enjoy the ride.

Trust me, you’ll eventually paddle into the eddies on the shores of young adulthood, staggering out of the boat exhausted, relieved, and wobbly-legged, but you’ll get there and a new adventure will stretch out before you. But before that time, while still in the rapids, enjoy the ride.


Written By Forrest Talley  
Originally Appeared On Forrest Talley  

Forrest Talley Ph.D.

Forrest Talley, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Folsom California. Prior to opening this practice, he spent 21 years working at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center. During that time he supervised MFT and SW interns, psychology interns, and medical residents. In addition, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UCDMC. He worked in several capacities at the UCDMC CAARE Center. These include Co-Training Director of the APA approved psychology internship program, the Individual and Group Therapy Manager, primary supervisor for interns and staff, and the main supplier of bagels/cream cheese for all souls at the UCDMC CAARE Center.View Author posts

Up Next

7 Things To Consider When Making A Midlife Career Change

Things To Consider When Making A Midlife Career Change

Are you one of those who are wondering how to go about making a career change at 50? A midlife career change can be exciting but terrifying as well, so here are some of the things to consider as well as options you can consider.

Changing careers is always challenging. But sometimes, a change is all you need to find workplace happiness and a feeling of accomplishment. We see several people changing their careers in their 40s and 50s to find better work-life balance and more tremendous success. 

The first step in a midlife career change is accepting it is possible. An average person holds 12 jobs in their lifetime – and more often than not, if you look at their journey, you’ll see that the jobs they held towards the end of their career had nothing to do with the jobs they started with.

Up Next

How To Improve Your Relationship With Yourself

Improve Relationship With Yourself

Having a healthy relationship with yourself is extremely important when it comes to living a happy and content life. Let's find out what you can do to improve your relationship with yourself.

Key Points:

Many people would be glad to work on self-improvement but believe they don't have enough time for it.

A change in mindset can help them take advantage of the time they already spend transitioning between locations or tasks.

These transition times can be used to check in with themselves and gain a better understanding of how they're feeling.

The thought of adding or removing a habit fr

Up Next

Feeling Down? 5 Reasons Why You Feel Like Shit And What To Do About It

Feelings that make you feel like shit

Feeling down? Me too, buddy. The keyword here is ‘feeling’. Feelings are weird, if you ask me. Emotions make life complicated. It ruins relationships, families and even careers. It makes you feel like shit and like hitting your head against the wall. But that’s not completely true, is it? 

Not all emotions pull you down. After all, who would we be if we didn’t feel anything? Emotions make us who we are and it adds meaning to our lives. The secret lies in identifying which negative emotions make you feel like shit and knowing how to deal with them.

Dear negative feelings, thanks for making me feel like shit 

Yes, I know we should experience the whole spectrum of human emotions

Up Next

How to Tame and Silence Your Inner Critic: 5 Ways

Ways Tame And Silence Your Inner Critic

“Turn down the volume of your negative inner voice and create a nurturing inner voice to take it’s place. When you make a mistake, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on instead of obsessing about it. Equally important, don’t allow anyone else to dwell on your mistakes or shortcomings or to expect perfection from you.” ― Beverly Engel. This one quote perfectly shows why it's important to silence your inner critic.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your inner monologue? You know, the voice that can motivate you to press on or stop you dead in your tracks and make you feel a few inches tall.

It is the same voice that attempts to protect you from shame, embarrassment, or making a mistake. If not tamed and regulated, this voice morphs into an intense critic, one that can sabotage and stagnate if it gains too much power.

<

Up Next

Thanksgiving Blues? 11 Ways On How To Feel Grateful When You Don’t

Thanksgiving Blues

Not feeling grateful this holiday season? Well, even if feel like there's less to celebrate this Thanksgiving 2022, here's how to feel grateful when you don't.

The expectation of feeling grateful can be challenging when we’re struggling with loneliness or relationship, work or health problems. It can be even harder to have gratitude around holidays when we see other people happily celebrating.

When you’re discouraged or weighed down with negative thoughts, there are several things you can do.