Happy Mother’s Day to many of us who have the privilege of being in the role of a Mom, which can include Dad, step-Mom , step-Dad, grand-parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend…the list can go on because it truly takes a village to raise even one child. Parenting is one of the most rewarding and, at the same time, challenging (frustrating, exasperating, till you are blue in the face) kinds of experiences. There are moments when you are choked with tears of happiness at your child’s teacher’s report and there are times you are ready to tell him or her to move out RIGHT NOW…(since they know everything)!
The joys and stressors of dealing with a developing human being are normal for whomever is involved in parenting. While a difficult teenager is not something abnormal, or to be avoided (for the sake of experience and living one’s life fully) most of us definitely want smoother sailing through the teenage years of our offspring. To celebrate Mother’s Day and share my wisdom, here is what works (90% of the time) to keep our teenage dominated household harmonious, pleasant, supportive and positive.
1) Wear your teen out physically. Keep their schedules busy by enrolling them in various sports (my preference is for no contact sports–track, swimming, sailing). While a certain amount of idleness is necessary for anyone to feel recharged, having a regular schedule promotes discipline, organization as well as good attitude.
2) Make volunteering a constant presence in your teen’s life. Doing something outside himself (herself) for the community brings more awareness, appreciation and a sense of gratitude into the teenager’s life, which spreads for the rest of the family.
3) Schedule regular friend get-together times. Being social is essential for teens and it improves their self-esteem, fosters connections outside of school and makes them happier overall.
4) Reduce gadget time. Social media and computer games can be fun parts of today’s teen’s life, but overindulging can become stress in itself. Unplugging (most of the time) leaves more time for study, true connections, leisure, family, doing things with your own hands–these are things that by themselves improve one’s mood in a meaningful way.
5) Cut out sugar and carbonated drinks from a teen’s diet. On top of hormonal fluctuations, don’t add sugar, caffeine and carbonation for your teen. All of these increase mood swings and decrease productivity. Replace such drinks with water, milk or occasionally juice (occasionally because all commercial juices are high in sugar).
6) Make sure they drink 1,5-2 liters of water a day. Water is essential for overall health. It increases productivity as it eases neuronal firing and enhances neuro connections in the nervous system.
7) Have a regular bed time. It is important for any human to have regular bed-times, but it is essential for a teenager. They are growing and developing physically, emotionally and academically. Teenagers have enormous demands on their bodies and souls. Therefore, having plenty of rest with regular bed-times is crucial.
8) Stimulate teens through travel and thought provoking conversations. This is a no-brainier. A restless mind equals restless body and moods. By keeping teens engaged we are insuring that our life is also pleasant. Plus, insights they give us when teens are probed…! The closest conversations that my son and I have had in the past happened in environment outside of our home-sweet-home. Therefore, travel–whether far or close–being away brings you and your teen closer.
9) Give them a children’s multivitamin. Many nutritional deficiencies lead to symptoms hyperactivity, crankiness, fidgitiness and inability to focus in your teen. Adding a nutritional supplement in the form of a vitamin is the simplest way to get your teen to feel better and therefore to be happier.
Most importantly, remember it is normal for teens to be teens (frustrating, exasperating, giving you that “till you are blue in the face” kind of feeling), but I hope my insights can help you to increase the frequency of having a pleasant, focused, well-behaved, connected-to-you teenager (at least, most of the time).