When I ask most parents what they want for their teenagers, they want them to be “happy”.
Happiness does not necessarily mean having more money or stuff, the evidence suggests that more money does not make us happier. We all have an “optimum level of happiness” and even though we may experience temporary euphoria with a job promotion, financial gift or even winning the lottery, after a period of weeks or months we get used to this new money and life continues as before as we strive towards the next anticipated goal which will make as “happier”.
Interestingly, giving to others and spending time with people is more likely to make is happy than money or things.
So what will make our teenagers happy? Ironically, part of this answer is having a good relationship with their parents even though they may do everything to sabotage this. Often, their behaviour is driven out of a lack of self belief and this is so clear to me when I talk to parents.
The problem is parents often misinterpret their teenagers’ reaction and perceive them as being rebellious or difficult. Whereas, if you look behind the behaviour their teenager is clearly struggling with GCSEs, friendships, body image, a comment on snap chat etc. You can usually trace back shifting behaviour to something going on in their lives.
Unfortunately, we can get into a habit of constantly reacting to our teenagers, even using a particular tone of voice, which of course never ends well and undermines our ability to build a positive relationship with our teenagers.
Perhaps in 2018, our New Year’s resolution ought to be to look behind our teenager’s behaviour, to try to understand what is really going on in their world and perhaps be a little more patient with them.
On the positive, in 2018 I would encourage you to do what you can to build them up, affirm them, complement them – catch them doing something positive for a change. They may not show a positive reaction to any of this but trust me, they do appreciate it, it can make a difference and even open the door to a more positive relationship your teenager.