5 ways to guide junior into a happy teen

Bringing out the best in your teen can be challenging. Try these strategies!


Andrew Matthews, best-selling author of self-help books like Being a Happy Teen and public speaker to sell-out audiences, is no stranger to parents lamenting their daily struggle to communicate with their teenagers, as everything tells them — from the media to social media to other self-help books.

          “Here’s the mistake that many parents make: The moment they see their teenagers after school they ask, ‘What happened at school today?’ To which the teenagers reply, ‘Nothing.’ End of conversation,” says Matthews.

          Here’s how Matthews says you can do it more easily: 

1) Watch your body language

You can make your kiddo feel important the same way you make other adults feel important. Matthews notes, “Children are very smart. They know when their parents are disinterested or judging them.”

          He advises parents to practice sharing gentle eye contact with their children while asking them how they feel and letting them know that it’s okay to agree to disagree (on the small stuff, anyway). “We should let [our children] know, ‘I may not agree with your point of view but I love you because you are you.’”

          Most importantly, do not interrupt when your kid is talking and remember to put that phone away!

2) Help your teen expand their horizons

Think of adolescence as the “adventure” phase of your teen’s life. There are a myriad of activities that can facilitate character building or exploration, Matthews urges children and teens to try out the ideas contained in:

Joining a debate club or public-speaking course. He says, “If you can speak in public, you have a massive advantage in the workplace and in life. Public speaking is an art that you can learn. Public speakers aren’t born.” 

Volunteering to coach a peer or younger child. Not only will teens get to experience the joys of helping but doing so can also help “consolidate their own understanding” of a subject — for school or simply out of interest.

Doing charity. Whether it is volunteering at the pet shelter or spending an afternoon at the old folks’ home, getting out and about in your own community may just give you some ideas about how your life can be a force for positive change. Matthews offers, “It’s a funny thing — we are happiest when we are helping people.”

Going offline. If staying at home or being alone is something your child prefers, staying off the Internet and not watching TV for a weekend can do wonders. You can find yourself rediscovering the art of conversation, reading books, playing a board game or playing a sport!


3) Do stuff together as a family

“A family that eats together, stays together.” Matthews says most teens open up about their thoughts “when THEY are ready”. Thus, parents should aim to spend enough time with their children while making conversations a natural part of family life — such as sharing chat about their day over a meal.

          There’s no need to plan the conversation; start by talking about movies, music, friends, politics and their grandparents — all can help get your children to share their own thoughts and feelings when the time is right.

Don’t set the goals for junior, set goals WITH them. Click next to find out how…