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6 Ways to Help Your Teen Cope with Hard Emotions

6 Ways to Help Your Teen Cope with Hard Emotions

Teenagers have a lot to cope with on a regular basis; friendships, braces, acne, and school are the tip of the teenage iceberg. Throw in the irregularities of life and hormones and you end up with a perfect storm.

I have become a professional in speaking teenage girl. Not just because I was one not so long ago but because I have raised one and I am working on another. I have learned the warning signs, the equilibrium shifts, and I am also very good at deciphering incoherent words through sobs.

Teenagers need one-on-one attention in order to learn to cope.

We forget as adults that our children are not born instantly knowing all things. What has become second-nature to us are things that they have never attempted or considered.

For the majority of adults, we have learned how to cope with the hard stuff. We know how to process our emotions for the most part. We have walked hard roads and learned life’s hard lessons. Our teenagers are just beginning.

A few years ago my teen realized for the first time that people are not always trustworthy. She learned through a tough friend situation that you have to be very wise when telling people things that are personal to your heart.

Even in the last year as we have navigated all that a pandemic can bring with it, including death and grief, my kids have dealt with new emotions and struggles. We have had to process hard things together around the dinner table. We have had to pray through feelings we didn’t understand.

Learning to handle the hard things that come our way is part of growing up.

As parents, we get to walk alongside them and help them navigate difficult things. We get to love them in the midst of hurt. We get to show them how to take a step forward when things feel too hard.

Just as we taught our babies to walk, we must help our teens learn to walk through hard emotions and challenges.

Here are five key ways to help your teen work through the difficult emotions in their lives. Each one will equip them for many years ahead and well into their adult years, setting them up to be healthy emotionally and spiritually.

1. Listen

This can be one of the hardest things a parent does. Truly listening to what their child is saying, and at times having to listen between the lines. We are listening to everything that leaves their mouths. If we find we do not listen to our teens, they will stop speaking. We want to be their go-to place. We want to fully listen without judgment before we say anything.

2. Don’t Dismiss What They Feel

Everything they feel is big to them. Whether it is a broken heart over a teen “love,” or hurt caused by a friend, don’t diminish what they are feeling by telling them it is silly, or childish. (There is a time for those things, and often it is something they will realize on their own.) There may come times when their feelings are hard for you to manage as a parent. It could possibly be serious depression or even anxiety. Don’t wait around on big feelings like this, help your child navigate by finding a Christian counselor to help you both.

3. Ask for Extra Help

The above leads me to number three. It is ok to ask for extra help from a Counselor or Pastor, especially if what your child is walking through is something that you can’t help them fix. Whether that is consequences of relationships, drugs or alcohol, depression, anxiety, etc. The list could go on. There are some things that we do not have all the answers for when it comes to the hard things and emotions our teens may face. It is ok to ask for help and guidance from a trusted source. Help your teen understand that it is also ok for them to seek counseling and ask for help.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Honest

We often tend to shy away from hard things. It is ok to provide some tough love to our teens when they need it. Maybe their big emotions have been caused by something they have done or a choice that they have made. They must learn that choices have consequences. We can extend grace, we can give mercy, we can comfort, but punishment may have to be a part of the discussion.

5. Share Your Own Experience

All of those things that you walked through as a teenager were not wasted. There have been many times where I have had to share my own experiences with my children as a way for them to learn the lesson, but also to know that they are not the first nor the last to experience heartbreak. It is ok to be vulnerable with our kids, they need it. It builds the trust and connection that your teen craves from you.

6. Go to God’s Word Together

The greatest thing you can do for your teen in the midst of hard stuff and emotional times is to take them to the word of God. What does God say about what they are walking through? How does God want them to respond? What can they learn about the character of God in this season of their lives? This is something that they will carry throughout their lives. We want them to continue to turn to their Bibles no matter what they face in their lives. We want them to study the Word regularly every day in order for them to be equipped for when trouble comes. There is power in knowing and living the truth.

As you seek to make connections with your teen it is important to remember these five things. Not that they will be the cure-all or perfect solution, but it will help your relationship with them thrive.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Wavebreakmedia

Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.

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