As a Family Coach, I support families with toddlers to 6 year olds. I also work with families who have teenagers. On the outside, that may seem strange. What could these two age groups have in common? Funny enough, they actually have quite a lot in common.
Both toddlers and teens are trying to figure out:
their emotions and their bodies
their limits and boundaries
what we, as adults, expect of them
how to communicate their feelings
how to relate to their peers and to adults
their place in their family and in the world
Toddlers and teens share quite a few similarities. And as adults, we often go through similar experiences and feelings trying to understand what these kids need from us, where the emotional outbursts are coming from and ultimately, how we can all get out alive.
Since I coach with teens, I wanted to write a post that speaks to them. I share some advice based off my reflections as a young adult woman and also my experiences working with teenage girls. My hope is that this advice empowers them during what can be a funny stage in life. If it resonates with you, I ask you to share the advice portion of the post with your teenage girl or one you know.
For parents of toddlers and parents of teens, please know that while this post has some life lessons to support teenage girls (and many that apply to teenage boys), these are all lessons that we can start teaching kids during those early toddler years.
By teaching your toddlers these lessons and reinforcing them from the start, you’re laying a strong foundation that will support you and your soon-to-be teens down the road. By the time your kids hit those teenage years (and don’t want you doling out advice or telling them what to do), you’ll be able to reference and reinforce these values and lessons more easily.
As you read the advice below, I ask you to:
Reflect on these lessons and write down one way you are modeling them to your toddlers and teens.
Write out what other values and lessons you are teaching or want to teach your toddlers and teens. Then write down one way to support and model those values. Pro Tip: By writing out your reflections and goals, you are creating more awareness & intention around those lessons & goals, as well as holding yourself accountable.
So here is some advice for your teenage girl from someone who not only works with teens, but was once a teenage girl too.
Advice for a Teenage Girl
Dear teenage girl,
I was once you. Here are some lessons I learned and wanted to share with you. I know that ultimately you will need to have your own experiences. In the meantime, I hope this helps.
Own your mistakes and be accountable
We all make mistakes along the way. It’s how you learn, change and grow from those missteps and misjudgments that matters. Your words and actions are yours alone. Be accountable for them. The mistakes you make along the way don’t define you, but how you handle them says a lot about your character. Acknowledge how you’ve faltered, remedy your errors when you can, but ultimately learn and do better.
Be open to change
Great things can come to you if you are open to them. Know that life is fluid and there will be many ups and downs. Life unfolds in unknown ways and while the unknown can be scary, don’t try to understand it. Just be open to the changes that come your way and know that with a positive attitude, the unknown can be pretty magical.
Treat other women well
Women are your peers. Bring each other up instead of taking each other down. Period. It’s so easy to fall into the “comparison trap” or to allow the “judgment monster” into our lives. Don’t do it. Women are not the competition. Use other women’s success to inspire you and motivate you. When you are secure in yourself, you know this and will live by it.
Take care of yourself
Do this! Do this every single day. If you don’t have regular healthy habits yet, then make them a priority. Eat well, exercise and manage your stress. Don’t get to the point of burnout. If you are already there, then make big changes. There is absolutely nothing that matters more than your health. If you don't feel well, you will have nothing to give anyone. Your school life, hobbies and friendships will feel flat. When you feel strong and healthy, you have so much to give back. You’re here for a purpose so feel good and share it with the world.
Embrace the present and practice gratitude
You never really know what can happen tomorrow. You are only guaranteed this moment. It may sound a little tacky but it’s true. Be in the moment. If you aren’t happy in the moment, then make changes. Be grateful for the now. Gratitude goes a very long way and is a practice that will positively affect your life for years to come. Show appreciation for those around you from family, to friends, to teachers and coaches. Practice gratitude daily and you will have a life that is grounded in the positive. The research proves it.
Stop comparing yourself to everyone else
Theodore Roosevelt was spot on when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In the age of social media, “reality” TV and hyper connectedness, it seems we all are constantly comparing ourselves to our friends, friends of friends and total strangers. Stop comparing your journey to someone else’s. You don’t actually know what they have been through or are going through. It’s easy to fall into the grass is always greener state of mind. When you find yourself in the comparison trap, resort to tip # 5 and practice gratitude. It works.
Whatever you choose in this life, find ways to do good. It can be in small ways or big ways. Find different ways to give back. Write a kind note. Tell someone you appreciate them. Volunteer at a local school. Organize a food and clothing drive. Just do good. This is the one thing that we can all do daily and it has the power to change the world.