How to help your teenager thrive during the emotional rollercoaster that is adolescence

Parents are always told how important it is to be a parent to their teenager and yet are also expected to step back to let their teenager learn from their own mistakes. Being able to get through your child’s teenage years is a challenge but can also be very rewarding. Teens need to know that they can go to their parents when they need to but are also allowed to develop their independence safely.

It’s important for parents to implement a good starting point for their child’s transition into their teens and they need to start this as early as they can. Starting this involves encouraging open communication skills that flows both ways, quality time is imperative to build a safe and trusting relationship, developing trust by really listening to your child and teaching them to act responsibility. The last important step is to provide age appropriate boundaries. Parents should help teenagers learn about boundaries by setting firm and appropriate limits in a loving way. Teenagers often find it difficult to have a clear sense of what responsibility entails. Due to constant hormonal changes, they often impulsively and emotionally react towards authority figures. Parents therefore need to help their teenagers navigate through this by teaching them about boundaries. Their teenager’s freedom needs to be earned through demonstrating responsibility. Parents need to help their teenagers learn from the lessons they find themselves in and parents need to be aware of when they implement healthy boundaries versus being too controlling.

Having an authoritative parenting style is also the most effective style that can aid a smoother transition and better emotional growth in your teen. Being authoritative, as opposed to the authoritarian and passive styles, set the standard where parents are willing to listen to their child’s concerns without speaking over them. These parents are nurturing and set fair and consistent boundaries that allow teens to develop understanding and confidence in themselves and their environment.

Important points to guide you in helping your teenager navigate through this emotional phase:

Work as a team
No matter if parents live together or not, they need to both be on the same page in order to aid the smooth transition through this developmental phase.

Provide support, love and healthy boundaries
This is an important point for all members of the family to implement. If parents are able to do this, they will be providing an optimal environment for their teenager to be able to integrate them too. It’s helpful for teenagers to know that the significant people in their lives acknowledge their good and bad parts and still love them. Knowing this can aid their healthy emotional growth.

Provide a healthy distance between yourself and your teen
Let your teenager have space from you while still being connected. If you have consistently tried to implement healthy communication between yourself and your teenager, then this should help develop your trust in your teenager’s ability to come to you when they need to.

Empathise with your teen and support their world outside of the family system
Remind yourself of how you were when you were a teenager. Support your teenager’s relationships outside of the family as long as it is safe and their friends and friend’s families have similar values to you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It’s sometimes difficult to ask for help but it’s a good lesson for all of us. It also helps your teenager learn that it is alright to ask for help. Signs to look out for that might require you asking a professional for help include: when your teenager seems hopeless, has decreased motivation, reduced energy levels, sleep issues, changed appetite and unexplained irritability.

Sharon Draper is a Psychologist who works from a person-centred approach. She has experience working with many people in a variety of settings. She provides a professional yet warm environment that enables the client to feel safe and their voice heard. She is a caring therapist who views her clients holistically while showing respect. She believes in the importance of building rapport and listening to each client’s individual needs. She feels it is a privilege to work with clients and uses different techniques suited to each unique client. These include evidence-based approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, narrative therapy, psychodynamic therapy and family systems and play therapy.

Sharon is passionate about working with clients in a collaborative way to help empower them to work towards a more balanced life. She believes therapy can provide clients with practical skills when dealing with difficult aspects of their lives as well as help them develop a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

Sharon also has much experience working with children and parents. She understands family systems and approaches families with respect and empathy.

You can follow Sharon on her Facebook page or, if you would like to book an appointment with Sharon, please email her on