Article approved by Dr. Frédéric Benoit, psychiatrist
Did you know that you have a powerful influence over your teen’s behaviour and decision-making?
It’s called silent education: everything you teach your young person through your lifestyle and way of thinking, acting and relating to others.
Do you want to learn more? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to take stock of your relationship with your young person.
How do you manage difficulties in life?
When you experience difficulties, your teen sees how you manage them and tends to repeat that same behaviour when they are going through a difficult time.
So, how can you be a positive influence on your young person?
- Try to remain resilient: when you are dealing with a problem, you can show your teen how you look for solutions. When they see that you solve your problems and don’t get discouraged, they will tend to go into solution mode when they are facing a challenge.
- Don’t feel guilty: If you don’t always succeed, remember that you are human and that everyone goes through difficult times. The main thing is to remember that you will have other opportunities to do better.
What is your outlook on life?
Helping your young person develop a positive outlook on life will help them deal with difficulties better. To help them with this, you can start by asking yourself about your own outlook on life: is it more positive or negative? By showing your teen that all events in life have their ups and downs, you will help them develop a balanced, realistic view of the world.
When facing problems, they will be more capable of bouncing back from events, finding solutions, transforming problems into opportunities and throwing themselves into new things, like practising a new sport or starting their first student job.
What is your relationship with yourself and others?
Believe it or not, your self-confidence and trust in others also influence your teen’s self-confidence.
Your teen will perceive and be influenced by a lack of self-confidence (or the opposite), but they will also notice if you “overplay” a high degree of self-confidence. It might be useful to take stock of your own self-confidence, as it might influence that of your teen. If you note that you don’t have much of it, try reflecting on why that might be and working on yourself to improve it. In the meantime, be lenient with yourself and don’t hesitate to talk openly about it with your teen.
Trust in others
Whether you are with friends, colleagues or your family, your young person is observing you and learning from your interactions. Know that it’s human to sometimes have trouble staying calm when a conflict breaks out. If such a situation occurs in front of your teen, you can review the event with them to explain and share the solutions you found so that you can do better next time. That way, you will help them understand that it is possible to solve interpersonal problems by listening to others, trusting, and finding solutions together.
Try to be consistent in your actions and words
We’ve all had a boss who gives an order one day and breaks it the next. Do you remember how confused we can feel in these situations? Your young person might feel the same way when there is a lack of consistency between your actions and words.
We agree: it’s very hard to be consistent all the time. It’s important to be as consistent as possible by trying to match your words, behaviour and decisions to your ideas about your young person and the requirements you have for them. If you can’t manage to do so, laugh about it with them and openly admit that learning is a lifelong effort!