Coping with change: top tips for parents

kimpositive2Did you notice the day that your sweet smiling child changed into a surly, moody teenager? Possibly not but you have probably heard it. The door slamming, foot stomping, tears and tantrums and that’s just from you!

Being a parent of a teenager can be stressful. As a mother you want the best for your child so it’s natural to worry about them. The change to secondary school, new subjects and routines can be unsettling for some. Exams and homework become battlegrounds. Making new friends and finding a way to fit in can bring other changes: hairstyles, clothes, music and new interests.

They push the boundaries looking for ways to be more grown up, staying out later, going into town, boyfriends/girlfriends and “what do you know Mum?” “Everyone else is going!” They have a language all their own texting, BBM, Facebook and YouTube are lifelines they can’t live without. They know all about sex, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and self harming. They are super confident, street smart and world savvy.

AND YET…

Your son or daughter may be really anxious and stressed. They may struggle to sleep and have panic attacks or feel really low and struggle to cope. As hormones hit home and the body changes, as the other social factors play out and family dynamics change many of you will recognise that both you and your teenager have to adjust. So how do you cope? How do you help your child? Where is the action plan and SWOT analysis? Is there an App for this? You are a successful businesswoman, of course you can cope!!!

Before you reach for the wine, chocolate and hankies, recognise, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I know what it’s like, I have a teenage daughter and have helped lots of young people and their parents to develop life skills to cope with change and stressful times. You can bring peace and happiness to your lives. NLP (Nero Linguistic Programming) and Positive Psychology offer great tools and techniques to take control of your thoughts and emotions, to change usual responses and make life easier.

The move from primary years to teenage tears can be made easier with a little TLC (Thought, Laughter and Coffee). So grab a cup and explore my top tips for happy teens and parents.

1. BREATHE! – Diffuse any stressful situation fast. If you are stressed your breathing becomes shallow, this can increase feelings of anxiety, chest tightness, fatigue, insomnia and light headedness. Slow deep breathing has been proven to calm your nervous system and interrupt the pattern of thoughts/reactions.

Breathe deeply in through the nose; imagine you can smell something you really like. Hold that breath for a few seconds then blow out very slowly. Imagine you have a birthday candle on a cupcake close to your mouth and blow so slowly that you don’t blow the candle out! Three or four deep breaths will bring a sense of calm.

2. FEEL GOOD FLIP SWITCH – Our thoughts, emotions and behaviours are connected, when you think about something it starts a chain reaction. We are creatures of habit and develop patterns of responses over time. Changing the thought will change the pattern. A quick way to do this is to flip your thoughts to something that is really positive and happy. Choose a memory of a really happy time, remember who was there, what did you do, what did you see, hear and feel? Immerse yourself in that memory for a couple of minutes. You will feel more relaxed and happier.

3. THREE GOOD THINGS – Another way to boost how good you feel is to focus on what has been good about your day. It is a great way to shift your focus if you spend a few minutes discussing it over dinner and maybe even writing it in a gratitude journal. The good things don’t have to be big – from a smile to doing well in a class, making a sale or getting good customer feedback. When you focus on what you have and are grateful for it, this boosts positive receptors in the brain and help to rewire those neural pathways. It’s like walking on Happy Street . When you record them you can read over them whenever you have a down day. If you build this into your day it can really make a big difference so that you feel less stressed by life.

Using these tips will create a sense of calm and build a more positive environment. Spend some time with your teen, share a coffee; find something to laugh at together. You will find it’s easier to discuss worries and concerns when you are both feeling relaxed. You might just see your happy smiling child is still in there.

Kim Macleod is Creator of Happiness at Stress the Positive (www.stressthepositive.co.uk) and founder of The Happiness Club http://www.meetup.com/The-Happiness-Club/

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