Thursday, February 19, 2015

Parents Influence Teens Even When It Comes to Sleep

I believe as children age how we parent must change as well. John Moore the Children Pastor of St. Louis Family Church once said in a sermon " Parents raise kids and influence teens." I have over the years come to appreciate this advice. This story in the Wall Street Journal talks about how parental sleep habits influence teen sleep patterns. You can read the article here.

I think this is a very important study not because of the whole getting enough rest, which of course is very important. But, because it is a testament to the fact --children are keen observers of parent behavior even into the teen years. In this case teens are observing what self-care looks like. Eating right, drinking water, exercising, and sleep are all examples of how we take care of ourselves. Adults should  live the lives which they want their children to live most especially in this area. As this study shows how parents live is a primary influence on their teens. Teaching how to live by being a living example. Here are five suggestions to positively influencing teens.

  1. Explain to your teen about what you are doing and why. Teens are approaching adulthood they need to know more and more the why of how adults do things.
  2. Be a mentor and develop a mentoring team. A large part of being the parent of a teen is helping them to understand what it means to be an adult. This includes being a sounding board and offering insights and advice as they begin to make life decisions. However, sometimes it is not comfortable for teens to come to parents with certain issues. Before an issue comes up sit down together and talk about which adults in your lives you both are comfortable with your teen to go to for advice. Then ask these folks over.  Use this time for you and your teen to discuss if they are willing to be a sounding board and to offer advice to your child. Try not to put them on the spot; ask them to take a week or two to think about it, and get back to you.
  3. Create a plan to help your teen prepare for adult responsibility. You may help them learn to manage a budget, learn about credit, paying bills, etc. it will help to start with your teens strengths because it will help them to build confidence.
  4. Give your teens more responsibility. Teens tend to fair much better if they feel their parents trust them. Giving them responsibility and thanking them when they live up to it helps build confidence. Some suggestions include: make them responsible for one meal a week, have them do their own laundry, and even have them get a part-time job to pay for their own car insurance.
  5. Help your teen identify their interests, goals, and passions. Teens fair better when they find their own interests and passions to pursue. It gives their lives direction and helps to define their roles.
  6. Be patient, supportive, and approachable. Teens are in a very difficult stage of life called Identity verses Role Confusion. This stage is  where they need lots of parental support. This is a confusing time where they are trying to figure out their own role as an adult and their place in the adult world. This can be overwhelming to them at times and they act either belligerent or childish depending on the situation. Parents can help by not allowing teen moodiness to affect their reactions. In additions, if adults support them in being who they are and follow the convictions of their own hearts it is easier on the changes in your relationship. Of course you still need boundaries, there should be some non-negotiables, and teens need real and consistent supervision.
One thing to keep in mind is that two year olds and teens are in the same stage. Teens show the same stubbornness and control needs in effect they are saying "I can do it myself". Keep this in mind and you will  have an easier time. I believe if we use our lives to teach about adulthood and are there for there them, makes it easier as they explore their own journey.

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