I was meeting with a psychologist today for my son. (He has autism, and it was time for a re-evaluation.) He was asking about our family life, and asked how many kids I had, and their ages. I mentioned my oldest girl and that she’s a new teenager, and an amazing one at that. He said, “I’d like to share a thought with you about how to set your teen up for success, if I may.”
He went on to tell me how important it is that we don’t paint a negative picture of teenagers. It’s so easy to do. “Oh, teenagers can be crazy.” “Well, you’re a teenager; I expect you to be moody.” “Just because you’re a teenager doesn’t mean you can….” “I’m dreading the teenage years…”
My jaw dropped.
Not because he shared any *Incredible, newfound information. But because I realized how true his statement was. I remember my daughter as a 6-year old asking why the neighbor boy was acting a certain way. My response was that he was a teenager, and teenagers tend to do crazy things! I remember her saying, “I’m scared to be a crazy teenager.” What kind of picture did I paint for her of her future self?? She is now 13.
I don’t think that people mean to do this. I certainly didn’t. However, these types of comments are all things that our children hear us say, whether we are saying them directly to them or not! Generally speaking, kids will rise to meet their parents expectations. What kinds of expectations are you setting? Instead of the negative stigma that we surround our children with before, and during, their teenage years, let’s raise the bar for them:
“This is such an exciting time. Look at all the opportunities opening up to you!” “I am so pumped for the teenage years. We’re going to make AMAZING memories!” “I love how mature and responsible you are becoming as you grow. “ “What things are you going to accomplish this year? You are so capable; I have no doubt you can do _________________” Give them something positive to work for, to live up to.
Our words matter. Our expectations matter. Our opinions matter. More than that, our KIDS matter. Find the time to connect with your teens. There is a beautiful blog post sharing three specific ways to do so HERE. So, instead of filling them with dread or negative expectations, we must show them and tell them exactly why they will be and are amazing – as teenagers.
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