Today I’m sharing some hard-earned tips on how to help your teen be happy.
Any parent knows that parenting a teen can feel like riding a unicycle blindfold. On the one hand we need to help them become independent and learn about taking risks and living with consequences. On the other hand, we want to protect them from stress and anxiety and spiralling into depression and harmful behaviour.
It’s a lot. For me, and for my teen.
So here are five ideas you might like to try to help your teen feel calmer, less stressed and happier!
Be Happy, Be You
There are so many things I love about this new book by parent bloggers Penny Alexander and Becky Goddard-Hill. One of my favourite parts is where the book breaks down what happiness actually is.
Be Happy Be You points out that interior happiness might come from a short, pleasant sensation, an absorbing activity, or a positive purpose. I particularly loved that this encourages teens to feel that they have some control over their own happiness. It’s very empowering.
It’s a chapter book that combines mindfulness and relaxation activities with practical tips for teens on dealing with common family, social and school issues.
It’s a pretty light read, with a friendly, accessible style. There’s nothing here that’s too adult or dark, and the book is definitely suitable for younger teens.
The book explains the science of wellbeing in clear language, with practical tips on things like communication techniques for troublesome parents, and improving the quality of your sleep. There are exercises to help kids put the techniques into action, from simple meditations to writing prompts to help boost body confidence.
I think modern life often encourages teens to aim for very high standards and it’s only natural for them to feel low if they can’t meet them. Teenage girls in particular are expected to do well in school, be popular, have a boyfriend, have a great social media profile, be in the RIGHT sports team or club, and look amazing. It’s a LOT.
While I don’t congratulate Flea for getting up and dressing herself, I do make a point of looking for things I can compliment her on doing well. My daughter is doing really well in her maths right now, working through an online revision programme. She does a great job of walking our dog. She is really understanding and supportive of some of my frustrations at work and gives great advice.
If Flea has an issue at school I tend not to mention it if I don’t need to. Our motto is, “That’s a teacher problem”. My job isn’t to discipline Flea for school issues she’s already dealt with – it’s my job to be her cheerleader when she gets home, and remind her she can do whatever she puts her mind to.
Teens are bombarded by stress and hormones and challenges on a daily basis. That’s why I’m so passionate about my teen taking part in regular sport. Those endorphins are great happy-makers, and exercise also helps to reduce overall stress, and improve kids’ physical confidence.
Don’t assume that your teen is getting enough sport at school. Teens are notorious for not joining extra-curricular clubs, and well, we’ve all had PE teachers who are less than inspiring in our time.
Explore out of school sports and clubs. Flea plays hockey for a local club, meaning practice once a week and matches most weekends. She also has a young adult membership at our local health club, and tries to go to a spinning class weekly. The music and younger crowd makes this feel “cool” and there’s no pressure to chat to anyone during a spinning class!
One of the biggest challenges for teens in 2020, I think, is that they’re always ON. Being connected to social media all day means you never fully escape the pressures of popularity, peer groups and teen girl power plays.
One thing we’ve worked on is relaxation techniques when Flea feels overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a bubble bath with a relaxing bath oil and candle, and doing some breathing exercises. It’s not just about deep breaths – I think that can make some people feel worse – but focusing on measured breaths in and out, and allowing your body to calm to a more natural rhythm.
I also bough Flea the de-stress set from NEOM, which includes a scent that can be applied to pulse points when you’re stressed, using essential oils to help teens feel calmer and happier.
I often think that happiness comes from feeling purpose and part of something bigger. Getting teens involved in service to the community can also help to put some of those teen dramas and worries into perspective.
I’m involved in the Scouts as an adult leader, and Flea always enjoys coming and helping at events for our Beaver Scouts. I also encourage her to get involved in our local beach clean-ups and fundraising projects at school. Last term, Flea was involved in helping out the school drama club with set painting. It’s a small thing, but every gesture gives kids opportunities to have purpose and to feel they’ve made a valued contribution to someone else.
What tips do you have to help your teen be happy?