“Uncomfortable” But Important Topics To Cover With Your Teenager
Remembering what it was like to be a teenager in school brings back all the memories of the dreaded “cool” crowd, the pressure to have the latest phone or the swankiest pencil case, and the relief that you have learnt from all the mistakes you once made. Unfortunately, as a parent, you know that your teenager still has a long road to travel down, and knowing that the road will not be all sunshine and rainbows for them is a part of the woes and hardship of raising a teenager. Also, the introduction of social media, and the pressure for teenagers to share every aspect of their daily life on the internet, also makes it slightly harder to protect them from the hardships of life. Here are some tips on how to approach common struggles of teenage life with your teenager, and help that bumpy road to becoming a happy adult that little bit smoother for them.
As mentioned above, Social Media is a huge presence in teenager’s lives and can put a lot of pressure on them to share their lives and appear a certain way online. There is also the issue of anonymity online. Creating anonymous accounts means it’s harder to hold someone accountable for their actions or words. Anonymous accounts, if befriended by your teenager, are also a major cause for concern, as you don’t know who is on the other side of the computer.
As a parent, it is completely in your right not to let your teenager have access to any social media sites. However, making sure they follow this rule is becoming harder due to the introduction of smartphones, and being able to access the websites at school or at a friends’ house. An informative approach to the dangers these online sites hold may also be beneficial. Making sure they know the importance of having their account set to private on sites like Instagram and Facebook, so strangers cannot contact them or follow their profiles, is essential. Also covering how much is important, or appropriate, to share online is absolutely necessary. Not sharing any personal information like their location, home address, or phone number is an extremely important conversation to have. There are a lot of examples of how quickly things can be spread and shared across social media – it may be an idea to show your teenager some examples so they can grasp the extremity of the online world.
Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs
As parents, we hope to protect our children from so many things. However, school and friend circles can present a lot of peer pressure to try certain things that teenagers may think appear “cool”. As much as you may want to bubble wrap your teenager, encounters with these three substances are potentially unavoidable in this day and age. An informative approach to the side effects, risks of addiction and the importance of being able to say no to peer pressure, will be extremely beneficial to your teenager. Alcohol rehab centres will have a lot of information or leaflets on the addiction and health problems that too much alcohol can cause, and your local GP will have information on smoking and drugs. This is in no way meant to induce fear for your child, just to educate them on the severity of dappling with each of these substances. Sharing some of your own experiences – if you have them – will also encourage your child to open up should they have any questions or worries about this topic.
Puberty and Relationships
As much as you want you son or daughter to stay your little boy or girl, they will, unfortunately, grow up more and more everyday. Part of that growing up includes them discovering the opposite or same sex, and the changes that come with puberty. With these changes come the responsibilities for a parent to educate your child in these areas as best you can. They will, of course, cover these topics at school, but as a parent, it’s common to feel a responsibility to make sure your teenager has taken on board what has been taught. A lot of parents like to approach this by giving their children a book on the “birds and the bees”, which makes it a more comfortable exchange for both you and your child – if this is something you both find uncomfortable to talk about. It is important to reassure your child that if they do want to come and talk to you about it – that is more than ok. It means your teenager will be able to read and take in everything in their own time, and they can come to you with any questions they may have. If they become extremely embarrassed whilst talking one-on-one about these topics, you may find they don’t take anything you say in, so this could be a more suitable approach for you. Depending on the age of your teenager you may also want to give extra attention to topics like consent and protection – for both of these topics the internet has a lot of informative sources. Putting an information pack together with research and advice for your teenager will be a great way of making sure these topics get the right amount of attention.