Doing Life Together

stressed womanJulie was handed her biology test in class. While she studied for the test, the material was difficult. When she saw the red C at the top of the exam, she began to cry. Racked with anxiety, she couldn’t believe she barely passed the test. The stress overwhelmed her. One has to wonder why?

This is just one example off what most of us would consider mild stress than seems to put our teens in a panic and struggling with anxiety. I offer one of possibly many explanations for this. Parents!

Before you stop reading and think, great she is blaming us for teens’ poor coping, stay with me. I am a parent guilty of this as well. While our teens have to be responsible for how they react to minor difficulties, we have to take some ownership regarding how we prepare them for such times.

Consider this possibility. Have you helped your teens too much?

Ask yourself these 5 questions:

1) When my teen is stuck, do I jump in and find the solution? Or do I watch them struggle and figure it out without my intervention?

2) When they fail, do I minimize the failure and try to make them feel better or do I allow them to sit with that failure and work through the feelings?

3) When they are upset, do I listen and encourage them to problem-solve or do I get angry at whatever happened to upset them and blame others?

4) When there is a problem, do I immediately defend their behavior, make excuses or do I allow them to feel the consequences? 

5) Do I believe failure can build character and am comfortable watching them struggle for a time? Or do I feel compelled to rescue them? 

Hopefully, you see that in our quest to be helpful and good problem-solvers, we may be denying our teens the development of these specific skills. If you want to prepare your teen to cope better, consider pulling back from intervening, becoming a good listening ear and empowering them to work through their problems.

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