The most important life lessons to teach your teens

Your teenagers might not respond to you with the same enthusiasm that they showed when they were a child, but that must not deter you from continuing to mentor and guide them. Teenage years are inadvertently the most difficult period in the raising of children. Use this phase to subtly transfer important life lessons to them. With a bit of knack, you'll be able to teach them skills to cope with unseen adversities.

I am not a 'life guru', yet I find many parents, of teenagers, turning to me for advice. I don't know what it is that they see in me that urges them to approach me for answers. It may be the silver in my hair, after all, experience's in life are said to make you knowledgeable. Maybe I just look wise!

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that parents today struggle to raise their kids. It is not so much as a struggle really; it is just that the challenges are more. The parent-child equation has seen a massive change in the last few decades. Parents are more approachable. Children, on the other hand, are faced with a rather complex life - with so much exposure to stuff their little minds cannot comprehend. There are conflicts on the personal front that both parents and children face. The conflict between the changing societal environment and our own values, make parenting, difficult.

Nothing in life is predictable – there is no textbook knowledge that we can apply to situations in our life. Yet, we continue to be tested throughout life. We continue to learn during every phase of our life. Most of us are able to ride the waves, smoothly. We become better with each new experience, but the learning doesn't stop. We continue to learn to do things better, sometimes different from what we'd done before – we learn to make better decisions. We gather many experiences through all our journeys. These experiences are what we need to share with our kids, in a very subtle way. All that you teach your teens remains with them, for the rest of their life. It gives them a strong foundation and they get better at decision making. The experiences you've had are not yours alone – make them lessons for your children so they can shape their future.

Here are five essential lessons that teenagers must be taught –

Empower them

Empowerment is a very powerful tool that you can entrust your children with. It is important because empowerment represents a sense of control. Empowerment is the power to believe in oneself. By empowering teens you allow them to trust their instincts and have faith in their own abilities.

When you empower your teenaged kids you make them responsible for their decision and choices. This doesn't mean that you let them have a free run. I am not advocating an undisciplined kid to be allowed such powers. Empowerment can bring in a world of change in the teenaged children. The first significant change you'll notice is self-confidence. This, in turn, affects the thought process and conduct, performance and decision-making abilities. As a result, the teens learn to face challenges and wade through the most severe storms.

Your role as a parent is to remain in a standby mode, to step in when required. Stop making every little decision for your children. Think of the times when you have had to decide on important stuff, and how you succeeded. You might have faced hardships, but in the end, they made you stronger, because you learned to fight the odds. Give your children the same empowerment and let them learn to circumvent difficult situations. You will enable their decision-making ability.

At all times let them know that you are there, right in the wings, to step in when required. Show them that you trust them, and not that you've left them to their own abilities. Assure, through each step.

Let them dream

I cannot stress enough on how important it is to let your children dream and to live those dreams. It is important that you allow them to follow their heart. Guide them by all means, but at the end of the day, it is their life – and they should be allowed to live it the way they want to. Might sound controversial, but it is important that your children grow up to be what they want to be.

Don't force them to be an engineer or a doctor, if their passion is to become a musician or study commerce. As parents, we worry what our children will do, and by this, I mean professionally. Our aim is how much money they'd be able to make, to be successful. Not everything in life is about money.

It is important that we do not force our views on our kids. Let them follow their heart and live their dreams. It is important because their happiness is more important than the goals we have in mind for them.

Your children might want to choose an unconventional career path – stand by their decision and allow them to follow their passion. Guide them and provide them with the best support and opportunities that you can, so their stride into the unknown is easy. With your encouragement, they will learn to believe in themselves and aim for the stars. Discouragement can rub off on them, and make them lose self-worth. Every achiever has had to strive to be where they are, no one had it easy. But, the one thing they always have is supportive parents.

One day at a time

Live, not in the past, and not for the future. Teach your children to live each day. We dwell so much of what has passed us by and worry way too much about the future that we forget the present, the time that we are living. Life is not about the past and the future. Let the children enjoy the day.

Let them cherish life, each moment of it. Don't bog them down with your aspirations. Teach your kids to live in the present because, in a way, it is the present that shapes their future. Let them aspire today, so they can become what they want.

Also, living for the day includes taking the time to experience life, soaking in every precious moment. Don't let their life run like a train timetable. Let it be like a road trip, where you are on your own, halting where you choose. This helps build beautiful memories, and memories are always precious and they help us grow.

Importance of communication

Communication is an important skill – it teaches us to listen, to understand and to respond. In today's technology and the gadget driven world, parents and teens have somewhere lost the art of communication. If you are one of those parents whose conversations with their kids revolve around – studies, school, sleep, eat and do's and don'ts, imagine how limited your vocabulary must be.

Lack of communication creates a void between relationships. Communicate with your teen, and they will begin to communicate with you. It will lead to better an understanding, which is the foundation of any relationship.

Communication skills that your teens build at home will help them become better communicators in life. They will be better equipped to face the real world and the challenges that they will face with others.

Build a positive attitude

Possessing the right attitude is important, at every phase of life. A child can be taught to be optimistic. Optimism helps in facing life's challenges better. An optimistic person has a streak of positivity, which can boost confidence and belief. It pushes you to go on and not give up.

Life is not always a smooth sail. There are always ups and downs. There are victories and failures. Teach your child to not let the failures pull them down. They must be taught that it is all a part of life. The good and the bad, each phase must be handled – teach them to accept everything as a learning experience, as a part of life. Hardships, obstacles and negativity come with life. Greatness is in overcoming these and not letting them overpower them. - be it victory or failure. They must have their head on the shoulder.

Staying positive is what counts in life – it is what gives you an edge over others. Giving up is easy, but it also symbolises accepting defeat. Teach your children to move on, and aim for a better performance, the next time around. Teach them to recognise and rectify their weaknesses and mistakes. Prepare better, to give a stronger fight.

Celebrate achievements, and don't show dismay when the performance is bad. 'There is always the next time', ''it's not the end of the world' and 'you can do it' are some messages that you need to deliver to your kids. Stand by them, encourage, guide and give a gentle push that will help them pick up the reins and start over. Teach them to take defeats and failures in their stride. They lost to someone better, is an important lesson to be taught. This also drives in a competitive spirit, because you teach the children that they competes with the best, and the best competition is always tough.

These are lessons that must be taught to every teen. Not as lessons as such, but as experiences that you give to them. Over a period of time, kids learn to find their path and learn to make sensible decisions. This can only happen with the right encouragement and inputs from the parents. Your role is not that of a taskmaster. You are a potter, and as a potter very gently, with very steady hands spins the potter's wheel, you do the same with your child's life. You give your child, direction. And like the potter's deft fingers shape the pot, you mould and shape your child, through proper guidance. Like the potter understands the soil and how to keep it moist, you need to understand your child, and how to bring out the best in him.

The skills that they acquire as teens will go a long way in shaping who they become. So, go ahead, give them the best foundation.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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