3 Ways You Can Support Your Teen

teen support

Investing in understanding the way your teen works will help you know how to support your teen, so let’s talk about that a little.  The emotional development and emotional needs of a teen are complex and very different than that of adults.  But if you do some research, set boundaries and keep the lines of communication open, you can be an effective support system for them.  Let’s talk about  3 things you can do to be proactive and provide valuable support when it means the most.

Know teen development basics

Teens go through a lot of changes while they are developing and it’s important for parents to know the basics which include emotional, behavioral and social factors.  

Emotional – Emotions are more intense for teenagers and those emotions can become overwhelming.  Because their brain is still developing, they may not have the skills needed to effectively manage these emotions. “The downside of this increased emotionality is that teens can become more easily irritated, upset, and moody—and they can have a relationship with themselves that’s confusing.”

(Siegel, Daniel. “How the Teen Brain Transforms Relationships.” Greater Good Magazine. August 12, 2014. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_the_teen_brain_transforms_relationships)  


Understand that they are feeling things on a different level than how you would feel them, and they may need help managing their emotions. Some of the best help managing emotions is simple attunement: I can see and understand that you feel this way.  It does not mean trying to fix things for them (unless they ask you to). See our article about the best support you can give right here.

Behavioral – A lot of behavioral factors come into play during teen development such as taking risks and trying new things.   Risky behavior can be stimulating because it triggers a dopamine release and that dopamine release feels good.  

Social – Having a social connection and closeness with a peer group is a big deal for teens and you will see it become a priority that has an impact on their life.  Teens start to shift from being attached to their parents to  being attached to their friends, because they are forming an identity, and a sense of who they are in the world at large.  They do this through the medium of their peers,  seeking validation and opinions from them (just like they’re done with you in earlier life).  They have to test things to know what is true for them so friendships may be rocky or might change more often than they have in other stages of life.   


Learn the teen signs of anxiety and depression

The signs of anxiety and depression can look different in teens than in adults and as a parent it’s important to know what they can be. You would typically think that sadness would be the biggest sign of depression but it can also present as anger, rage or outbursts.  This is usually chalked up to puberty or hormones and not really considered as a sign of anxiety or depression.

Drinking, using drugs and smoking are also typically explained away as rebellious behaviors, when they in fact, can also be a sign of anxiety and depression.

Since teens usually thrive off of social engagement and feeling a part of the crowd, avoiding social activities and spending more time alone, can also be a sign to look out for.

(Geng, Caitlin. “What to know about Teen Anxiety and Depression.” Medical News Today. July 27, 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/teen-anxiety-and-depression#symptoms)


Commit to building your own resilience

It’s common to hear that you can’t help others if you are not willing and able to help yourself; and this holds true when it comes to supporting your teen. It’s important for them to see that you are able to practice self-care successfully and to learn how it’s done so they can implement this as a practice in their own life. 

“Let your teen see how you prioritize and manage your mental health and emotional well-being. By showing how you cope you help your teen learn to build resilience, which will help them bounce back from troubling times.”

(Talib, Hina [teenhealthdoc]. “How to show up for your teen.” *Instagram, February 26, 2024, https://www.instagram.com/p/C30QmPPusJ3/?igsh=MWQ1ZGUxMzBkMA%3D%3D&img_index=5)

Teens learn through modeling, and if they see you experience challenges, and see that you are able to get through them and come out on the other side, they will realize it’s possible for them to do the same. Teenagers watch you closely (you might have noticed that when they are critical or call you a hypocrite), so you might not need to do much in terms of explaining.  You being genuine in your process of working through challenges without trying to teach them or advise them is extremely powerful.  They are watching. 


The teenage years are hard on teens and their parents, and anything you can do to help ease the transition into this challenging period and navigate it while it is happening is helpful.  If it becomes super challenging and you need support, contact us, we are here for you.

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