Are You Raising a Strong Teen?

I live in a household where the male to female ratio is 2:1. If I were to ask the male members of the household, “What makes them strong?” their minds would go to physical strength. Wrestling with Dad, opening a stuck jar lid or hitting a puck are ways my sons show their physical strength. Yet there is more than physical strength that needs building in our teens; mental and emotional strengths are just as important. Are you raising a teen strong in all three?

In this blog series, I have been following Sir Ken Robinson’s book You, Your Child, and School. As a reminder, the themes are:

  • Knowing your child
  • Your child’s development
  • Your role as a parent
  • Why education needs to change, and
  • Actions to take as a parent to change

 

Chapter Four: Raise Them Strong focuses on the current struggles for young people in today’s culture and the effects on their mental, emotional and physical development.

 

Adolescence is defined as the period of time between childhood and adulthood. It begins at the onset of puberty and varies as the individual child matures and grows. There are many factors that can affect adolescent development. Robinson’s book addresses a few topics that he feels need to be brought to the attention of parents for all developmental ages.

 

The increased use of technology has led to a number of concerns in our modern culture. You, Your Child and School talks about the increased rate of anxiety and stress reported by youth due to the use of social media, easy access to pornography, lack of exercise, and increase time spent indoors. All are growing concerns for the nation’s emotional, mental and physical health.

 

The digital culture is drastically changing how we spend our time and our relationships as a family. Technology is not just changing our culture, it may be wiring our teens’ brains in a different way than in previous generations.

 

Robinson also talks about the increased use of drugs, especially the opioid epidemic and alcohol use as eroding factors on the health of youth. Add to that the increase in childhood obesity and diabetes due to poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle.

 

What can you do as a parent?

Self-care modeled by the adults in the lives of teens is the first step in helping teens become healthy adults. Stress plays a major component in the health of teens. Headaches, lack of concentrations, sleeplessness, stomach aches, and high blood pressure are just a few of the signs of increased stress. Many of the suggestions Robinson gives for teens to relieve stress are the same for parents.

 

  • Quality sleep for 7 to 11 hours depending on your age
  • Exercise, unstructured play, and movement for an hour per day
  • Get outside to explore nature and the world
  • Take manageable risks to experience failure, perseverance, and self-control

 

These four activities can have a huge effect on the physical, mental and emotional health of both you and your teen. When teens include all four of the suggestions in their daily life, their ability to learn is affected positively.

 

Robinson sums up the chapter with the statement “Ultimately, our job as parents is to create an environment where our children can be as strong, resourceful, and fulfilled as they can be.”

 

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