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Getting Your Teen to Master the Basics

Parents and teens gathered in the kitchen

As a parent, if you can teach your teen to master the basics then you will be setting them up to cope with the stressors of life in a healthy way. All parents want to prepare their children to be able to face challenging situations and have the skills needed to take care of themselves and live independently.  

It may be a challenge to instill these basic practices in your teen because they may not be receptive to advice and prompts at this stage in their life.  However, if they observe you focusing on the essential basics in your own life, and you consistently point them to these basic practices, you will be giving them tools that they can use in the years to come.  

We previously covered 5 basics – food, water, rest, movement, mindfulness – and explained why they are essential to mental health.  If you haven’t already reviewed these 5 basics click HERE to read the blog post before you continue. 

Ways to Teach Your Teen the Basics

Model It

Most parents will notice their young children watching their every move and even copying them; and kids are usually very honest and will tell you they want to be just like you.  Teens, on the other hand, will usually cringe at the idea of being like mom or dad, and they definitely won’t admit that they want to be like you. 

But this does not mean that your teenager is not watching how you behave, how you react in challenging situations, and how you cope with stress and other challenges. They are watching and what you show them will impact how they handle situations and challenges in their own life.  That’s why it is important to model healthy habits and behaviors to your children, and especially to your teen.  

No parent is perfect and your teen will see your imperfections and when you don’t make the best choices.   However, if they see that you consistently focus on the basic practices that lead to both physical and emotional well-being, they will begin to develop a positive foundation that they can build their own healthy habits on.  

Connect it to something they want

It may be hard for your teen to commit to implementing these basics and they may not feel like they will work for them.  As a parent, one way you can get them on  board is by connecting it to something they want or that is important to them.  

Your teen may be experiencing stress or dealing with a challenging situation and ask you to be excused from responsibilities, school, etc.  You can develop a plan with your teen to allow their request to be honored if they are willing to implement some of the basics.  When you create this plan, it’s important to  work together and to agree on specifics– what is included and how it will be implemented.  This will allow them to feel involved and not like you are demanding that they try something. 

Most teens have a hard time committing to things or trying things because they do not understand how it will benefit them.  Connecting the desired behavior or action to something they want can provide the motivation for them to begin,  and hopefully once they realize the benefits, they will continue the behavior or action because they truly see the importance of it–even if they don’t want to admit that to you.

Know that they need to come to their own realization 

Admitting that their parents are right is one of the hardest things for teens to do, so most of the time they don’t; and that’s okay!  You don’t need for your teen to admit that you are right or that the advice you gave them was helpful.  Unfortunately, you may never know if your teen came to the realization that you were right about something.  

However, if you have been consistent in your message to your teen and have consistently modeled  positive behaviors to them, then it’s very likely that at some point your teen will realize that you were right.  But having them verbalize that you were right is not what will create the positive impact in their life; their experience of the benefits that come from taking care of the basics is what will benefit them for years to come.  

If your teen experiences how the  basics can support them both physically and emotionally, then they will take that with them into the world and it can never be taken away from them.  But they have to realize and experience it on their own, you can’t do that for them.   It takes seeing it modeled at home, trying it themselves and experiencing the positive results to truly invest into this using this approach when things get challenging in their life.   

Focusing on the basics can create stability and have a positive impact on the mental health of both teens and adults.  You can learn more about the five basics in our previous blog (link) and you can guide your teen by providing them with the tools they need to maintain their physical and emotional well-being, no matter what life throws at them.

Looking for some extra support for your teen to prepare them for what lies ahead?  We’d love to offer that support.  Contact us HERE.

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