Young children seem to crave acceptance and assurance from the adults in their life. They also thrive from receiving positive reinforcement through verbal affirmations. However, the need to hear this praise does not diminish as our children grow older. They may need it even more as teenagers.
Take a moment to reflect upon your adolescent years growing up. Remember all of those awkward moments during that time, all of the growing pains? None of us would want to relive that time again given a choice. Now, compound that with all of the complications that make life even more difficult for them nowadays. It quickly becomes easy to understand why our teenagers need to hear words of love, encouragement, healing, assurance, and support compared to when we were growing up. They need to listen to these kinds of words now more than ever before. And most importantly, they need to hear those words of praise and affirmation from us as their parents.
There is power in the words we release over our children as parents. They look to us for protection and reassurance. Even though they outgrow the elementary years and sometimes begin to act as if they do not need, want or value our role in their life, the reality is they need our voice speaking life to them at every stage. When the world's weight is on their shoulders, they will always seek solace in the affirmation we provide them through our presence and words.
As "elementary" as some of these phrases may seem, our teenagers need to hear us speak them authentically and often. No matter how tough their exterior may come off or what walls they may erect, these words can still pierce through and touch their hearts in the moments they need to hear it most. Here are some reminders that your teen needs to hear.
"I'm proud of you."
Being proud of our children is a great joy for all parents. When they perform well, we want to acknowledge their hard work by telling them how proud we are. However, being and saying we are proud is not only reserved for when they have obtained success with something. They need to hear those words simply because of who they are and whose they are. We choose to look for the good to celebrate in our teenagers because even on their worst day, they still deserve to hear us reminding them of who they are above how they perform. We can be proud of them because they are who they are. That is what we must highlight with our words, over and over again.
"You are beautiful/handsome."
Teenagers are swamped with ridiculous ideas and suggestions from the culture about their self-image. They often feel pressured by other peers who challenge them to conform to popular fads concerning beauty. Exploring something new regarding their appearance with the notion they will be more attractive can be very luring and deceptive. On top of all outside influences, puberty's hormonal impact causes their bodies to reflect visible signs of change. Is it any wonder they can feel self-conscious about how they look and struggle with feelings of low self-esteem about their body image?
Our teens need to hear us compliment their appearance regularly. This sentiment is not especially true just for girls but equally valid for boys. We want them to have a healthy self-image, constantly reminding them they are beautiful without enhancements. We want to affirm how they are meticulously fashioned to look how they look and that they are a masterpiece of beauty to behold. Tell them they look good and give them a boost in their self-esteem.
"You are destined for greatness."
As our teenagers get older, they begin to wonder, question, or even doubt their purpose in life. Many of them start to shape their future college and career plans during their teenage years. They need our words to remind them. Our teenagers must come to recognize the greatness invested in them. We must frequently tell them how great they are and the excellence within them. This declaration will give them the confidence to believe they can accomplish all of the great things they are destined to achieve.
"I believe in you."
Parents are children's most prominent advocates and cheerleaders. It is their job to encourage their creativity and dreams. They do not have to be the best or brightest in their pursuit for us to believe in them. Teenagers need your unwavering support, championing them to keep pressing on, especially when things get complicated. When they are discouraged, or battling feelings of defeat are perfect opportunities for us to firmly let them know, "I believe in you." Follow it up with an, "Oh, yes you can," or "You've got this!" Letting them know our confidence will infuse our teenagers with more substantial confidence in themselves.
"I love you."
These three words never get old. We cannot say them enough, and our teenage children can never hear them too much. So simple, yet saying "I love you" brings security to our teens. It offers them comfort that touches their soul. Let us tell them how much we love them and match our words with our behaviors. While reminding them of our love, we should not forget to remind them of their village's love for them. Their love and support motivate us to speak all the right words they need to hear at just the right time.
Navigating the teen years can be rough for both parents and children. Their lives, bodies, and social circles are all changing rapidly. Friendships that were easy in elementary school became difficult in middle and high school. Academics have become more challenging and time-consuming. There is more responsibility at home, they may have a job, and their extra-curricular activities become more and more demanding. While they're dealing with these changes, remind them that you're still there for them, and they'll always have your support. It would also be a great time to remind them that everyone makes mistakes and that it's all a part of growing up.