Does your teen love to take risks? Do you worry about their safety especially around drugs and alcohol, sexual activity etc.?
These are not the risks I'm encouraging – these are real dangers and your teen needs you to maintain strong healthy boundaries and parental guidance.
However, teens have a developmental need to take risks. Many animals have this hardwired into their brain development during the adolescent phase. Chicks need to jump out of the nest in order to learn how to fly. Your teen’s lower threshold for risk taking serves an evolutionary purpose.
If they don't get this need met in healthy ways, then they are more likely to take dangerous risks.
So how can risk taking be healthy, safe, and fulfilling?
Healthy risks for teens:
- follow their dreams and passions even if it seems unrealistic
- join a club or volunteering group within or outside of their school community
- start their own business (they're never too young!)
- speak out about an issue they're passionate about
- join a political or activist organisation
- express they're own opinions even if it might make them unpopular
- say no even if that means someone might not like them any more
- enter a competition – for writing, science, art etc.
- exhibit or perform their art
- write a blog
- nominate themselves for leadership positions
- ask questions in class
- admit their mistakes
Older teens may:
- move out of home or move away from home
- manage their own finances
- apply for jobs
- apply for scholarships
- go travelling
Please comment below if you have any other examples.
You may have noticed that most of these risks involve the risk of failure or the risk of being judged harshly by others.
For teens to be able to take these kinds of risks they need to feel confident. They need to know that they are loved no matter what. They need to know that even they fail they still have worth and they are still loved. They need to know that failure is essential on the pathway to success.
If you keep them safe from failure then they will not learn how to fly and they will take less fulfilling and more dangerous risks.
Teens have a lower threshold for risk-taking behaviours and this needs to be maximised and encouraged.
It becomes more challenging as you get older to try new things and move out of your comfort zone.
Is it scary for you to let your teen take these kinds of risks?
If you judge your success as a parent by your teen's level of success then encouraging them to do something that might end in failure and disappointment is a risk for you as well. You might look like a failure as a parent. You might be judged harshly by others.
This is all in your mind. The beliefs of “I have to keep my teen safe no matter what”, “I am responsible for their success or failure”, “people will judge me based on my teen's success in life” are products of your mind.
Believing these thoughts is what causes stress and what may lead to conflict with your teen. They need make some of their own mistakes.
In order to stretch out of their comfort zone in life, they need to risk failure. As do you.
And through this failure they will find success. They will learn the lessons they need to learn.They will take as long as is necessary.
One of the most essential ingredients for success is support and the most effective way you can support them is to believe in them no matter what. When they experience failure, frustration, or disappointment you can say to them “I believe in you and I know that your success in life is inevitable. What can you learn from this experience?”
You can say this even if they are taking unhealthy or dangerous risks.
The physical and psychological harm that can result from risky sexual behaviour, drugs and alcohol, dangerous driving etc. are real and scary. Teens need your wisdom and protection from these dangers.
The Mindful Mums program helps you to identify and shift any unexamined beliefs and assumptions that are causing you stress or that are leading to conflict in your relationship with your teen.
It gives you knowledge about teenage developmental needs and how to manage and utilise these for your teen's ultimate happiness and success.
It teaches you communication and negotiation strategies to set strong boundaries around respect and safety.
It guides you to maintain your inner sense of loving kindness and calm even when the external is in chaos.
You will experience a transformation in how you relate to your self and your daughter.
Click here to sign up for this free 5 day ecourse.