Encouraging teenage independence and responsibility
The teenage years are exciting and daunting in almost equal measure.
Becoming a teenager brings new independence along with new responsibilities. The teen years bridge the gap between the innocence and freedom of childhood, with a very different kind of freedom that adulthood offers.
Suddenly, your teenager is asking to be treated like a grown up. They’re trying to break away from the family unit, just enough to spread their own wings. It’s a difficult stage for everyone to go through, but can bring unique challenges for teens with disabilities.
Understanding a teenager’s need to create the right image
Teenagers want to feel ‘cool’. Being a part of the ‘in crowd’ is particularly important for building self-esteem and confidence.
Unfortunately, it is not always as easy for teenagers with differences. Some children struggle on a social level, whilst others cannot do things physically that their peers are able to enjoy. They might miss out on sport activities, or even BBQs on the beach.
These missed opportunities can have an impact on teenage bonding, which can leave some teenagers struggling to find their way in the world.
Helping teenagers to embrace their differences
As your teenage son or daughter becomes more independent, the best thing that you can do is to help them with their self-confidence.
This might mean finding ways that they can join in with some of the activities that others their age are enjoying, but often this isn’t as possibility. Many times, the important thing is to embrace differences and accept where there are limitations, but focus on the strengths and find ways around any problems.
Could you help your teenager to feel comfortable using a mobility scooter for example? While mobility scooters are often seen as vehicles for the elderly, they can give a teenager an incredible amount of independence.
Teens that can’t learn to drive can use a scooter to get from one place to another, without the need to be driven everywhere by a parent or guardian. The best off-road mobility scooters also make those off-road hikes and days on the beach a reality, opening up new opportunities for the social teen.
For a teen with a neurological disorder, the key to encouraging independence might be in helping your son or daughter to navigate the grocery store. By regularly visiting some of the places that they will need to go on their own, you can help them to get used to layouts and the behaviours of others.
Sit down and talk with your teen
Your teenager will have their hopes and dreams for the future whirling around in their head. This is the perfect time to ask them about what they want to achieve, what obstacles are in the way and how they might get around them.
Encouraging independence will also mean that you need to find ways to sit back, letting your teenager take the reins.
The successful navigation of the journey to independence will depend on you and your teen working together, to find solutions that work for everyone.