19 Jul The Importance Freedom and Independence in a Teen’s Life
With the boom and crackle of fireworks still ringing in our ears, it reminds us that July is the quintessential month to rethink what freedom and independence mean to us, not just as citizens, but as individuals too. For teens, this can be especially challenging, as they navigate the often rocky transition from childhood to adulthood. As parents, easing this process by slowly encouraging responsibility, promoting freedom, and fostering independence can be crucial, while remaining a lasting source of support for the years to come. So, this month, in honor of America’s independence, we are discussing how you can help your teen build their freedom and independence. So keep reading for ways to capture the spirit of the fourth when supporting mental health in teens!
Some of the most common complaints of teens stem from their inability to feel free to express themselves. In many cases, teens end up feeling held back from experiencing their full identities. Whether it’s their school’s rigid dress code or an untapped passion for poetry, teens need the tools and the space to express themselves and their emotions. So help them find a way to respectfully demonstrate their inner voice. Maybe they are fashion fanatics, word wizards, music maniacs, or soft-spoken artists. Ask them what makes them feel free and help them explore it! When it comes to their physical voice, teach them the importance of disagreeing respectfully, showing them that it is most often the best way to help others understand their position and find a worthwhile compromise.
Many teens struggle with managing complex emotions. Anxiety can be an extremely challenging and even debilitating experience for teens without the proper tools to cope. They might feel lost, stuck, hopeless, and even controlled by their body’s response to everyday life. If your teen struggles with anxiety, depression, excessive stress, or other challenges, they might benefit from mental health resources for teens to help feel in better control and get more independence from their anxiety. Check in with your teen about how they are feeling and coping. Let them know that you are available to support them in finding any professional help,support programs, or other resources they might need. Remind them that with help, feeling free, independent, and in control is possible!
The teen years are often filled with social pressures. It can be the pressure to perform well in school by teachers, in sports by coaches, in life by parents, and especially, to fit in amongst peers. With outside forces setting expectations for teens, they can often feel trapped, like they need to be someone they’re not to meet the standards they believe have been set for them. This makes the teen years an especially important time to build self-confidence, figure out what they want, and learn how to stay true to themselves. Most of all, teens might struggle to stand up for themselves and say no to situations they aren’t comfortable with. You can help by having a talk with your teen about what pressures they are feeling and why. Whatever it is, support your teen and help them find solutions that they feel good about. Remind them that you are prepared for an open and honest conversation and let them know if you are willing to receive feedback too!
As a parent, it can sometimes be hard to let your “baby” spread their wings, taking on the world for themselves. However, teen years are critical for allowing your teen to explore, form their own identity, take on projects independently, and simply learn how to do things on their own. It can be as simple as studying, learning to drive, preparing meals, and doing their own laundry. But now is the time to give teens the space they need to find their own ways of managing their existence by themselves. Start by expressing to your teen that you think they are old enough to take on more responsibility. Next, explain that as they try new things and take over more roles in their own life, you are there to support, guide, and teach them each step of the way.
At Tilly’s Life Center, our mission is to provide mental health resources for teens that facilitate a life of fulfillment, freedom, positivity, and independence. As teens rapidly grow and mature, it can be difficult to find the proper balance of freedom and independence in their lives, from their parents, in their communities, and within themselves. We believe social emotional learning curriculum can be instrumental in helping teens develop the skills they need to make healthy choices, face challenges in productive ways, and support their mental health. To learn more about our curriculum, visit www.tillyslifecenter.org.