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Posts Tagged ‘atitudes’

What is the top priority of most teenagers? Adults would put family, security and friends near the top, but most teens I know also assign high priorities to being liked, competent, and “cool.”

As for the greatest fears, teens usually put fear of embarrassment, mistakes, and failure at the top of the list. Memories of our own teenage experiences include these same concerns–yearning to be liked and worried about embarrassment.

The next teen you encounter will probably have all these priorities and fears – all disguised or covered by an attitude that says everything is just fine. That teen needs you to confirm his or her competencies, likableness, and “coolness.” Look for chances to ease her fear and bolster her confidence. Even though you may find plenty to fix and teach your teen, keep to the positive and avoid the urge to work for perfection. Many adults have sadly told me: “As far as my parents are concerned, I always felt I was never quite good enough.”

So while talking to your teen, remember that criticisms, quick-fixes, advice, and focus on shortcomings hit vulnerable buttons. Admiration, compliments, and respect for who they are and their successes are always gratefully received even if they are too “cool” to acknowledge it.

Be generous with your positive support, find the good points. Encourage your teen to value himself and you will help insulate him from the temptations to try dangerous “S.A.D.” behaviors: sex, alcohol, and drugs.

Since “coolness” is related to being “non-parent,” your teen may also worry she will be accused of being similar to an adult such as a parent, perish the thought! Still most of us are surprised to eventually hear ourselves say, “I can’t believe I said that, I sound just like my Dad (Mom)!”

Teens are always struggling to be their own adult and yet still tempted to be reckless, irresponsible children, too. This preoccupation with who they are and whether they are properly cool makes life tough for your teenager. They must always be on guard, questioning each comment from their parents and wondering: What are you saying about ME? Are you challenging one of my desires to be cool (hep, with it, in, or whatever the word for the upcoming generation is)? Are you endangering me with one of my greatest fears of embarrassment, a mistake uncovered, a failure?

Parents try to make their children and their teens as similar to themselves as possible; they try to instill their standards, their view, their attitude towards community, work, family, religion, and values. It’s the way we pass along our culture.

Children and teens try to make themselves as different from their parents as possible! They feel a drive to get out from under the umbrella of protection and influence of their parents. That’s the way we change, and hopefully improve, the culture!

As your teenager approaches adulthood, positive comments to your teen will be your most effective influence. Let it never be said by your son or daughter, “I always felt I was never quite good enough.”

Dr. McIntire is the author of What Every Parent Should Know About Raising Children, Raising Your Teenager: 5 Crucial Skills for Moms and Dads and Raising Good Kids in Tough Times. Review his books on Amazon.com. Write him through http://www.ParentSuccess.com

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