Your teen is going through a significant phase of development, discovering who they are as a unique individual. You have the exciting (and sometimes frustrating) task as a parent of encouraging them to develop the independence they will need as a healthy, young adult. Here are some tips for how you can best support them on this journey.
1. Respect Their Feelings
In order to help your teen gain more independence, it’s important that you listen to and understand their feelings. This will demonstrate to them that their feelings have importance and value, which can help them to assert themselves to others in the future. Giving them a boost to their self-esteem and confidence doesn’t hurt either.
2. Show Support
You can also help your teen foster a sense of independence by supporting them. Put simply, feeling independent is very different from feeling alone; if your teen feels like they have a strong support system, then they will feel more confident in themselves. Balance this by respecting their privacy and space, which will help them grow into the unique individual that they are.
3. Develop Decision Making Skills
When your teen develops good decision-making skills, this will aid them in growing more independent. Teach them how to explore various options and to weigh the pros and cons of a situation. You can also help them understand how to troubleshoot situations when they don’t quite go as planned. This will help your teen to make decisions on their own, rather than constantly relying on others.
4. Encourage Their Passions
During teenage years, we all go through a process of trial and error—we try out various activities in an attempt to understand what we are truly passionate about. Encourage your teen in this exploration as they develop their own unique sense of passion and purpose and as they set goals towards new accomplishments.
5. Share Responsibility
Finally, for teens to really feel independent, you need to give them opportunities to exercise it. Have them plan a meal, get their input on a family outing, let them watch their younger siblings or trust them to go on a trip with their friends. While they might mistakes along the way, this is how your teen can really begin to put their independence into practice.
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