Generation Z is built different, so we need to approach how we support them differently.
I’m sure you remember being a teenager. Feeling as if no one understood you. Awkwardly attempting to communicate with your family. Trying to fit in with your peer group – or multiple peer groups. Struggling to find your place, and your independence. Failing miserably at managing your stress, and mental health. Perhaps you even fell into the wrong crowd, indulged in less than desirable behaviors, experimenting with drugs and losing focus with school.
No matter what your personal history is: very few of us look back on our teenage years with rose-tinted glasses.
Yet now: here you are with at teenager of your own: and you’re watching them struggle to understand emotions, figure out appropriate ways of expressing themselves, divulging in risky behaviors or spending time with other parents because they no longer feel like you understand them.
This is obviously a normal part of growing up, but it doesn’t have to be so challenging.
I’ve been working in the youthwork sector for almost ten years now, and I’ve come to realize that the key trigger points when it comes to teenage years is the following:
- Connection and Communication
- Culture and Identity
- Control and Confidence
- Compassion and Empathy
Reflecting back on my work as a youth-worker, and on my own experiences as a young person: I’ve been incredibly grateful for the role in which music and songwriting have facilitated my own health and wellness in relationship with the above trigger points.
Over the next few weeks, I want to do a bit of a deep dive in to each of these trigger points: not only what they are, and how they can impact your child’s learning and development, but also some tips on how you can help your teenager overcome their inner conflict, learn and cope better, feel understood, and – of course – stay connected with you.
Connection and Communication
In relationships – particularly a parent child relationship – communication is allows [each party] to explain to the other what one is experiencing and thus what their needs are. Therefore, the act of communicating not only helps to meet your needs, but it also helps you to be connected in your relationship
Which is where connection comes up – and connection is a two-way street. Life suddenly becomes no longer just about you as an individual parent, but more of how your actions and words affect the other person – your child – in some way–whether good or bad! Giving our kids this type of emotional support will help them feel loved enough to want nothing but love themselves which then creates positive growth within everyone involved. In order for there be true connection between parents/child(ren) something needs to be passed along from the generation before: understanding & acceptance. One of the best ways to achieve this is through the art of music
When teenagers feel safe enough to write their truth into song, and share that part of themselves – especially with their parents – it offers parents [you] a beautiful opportunity to respond with understanding and acceptance. Suddenly, your teenagers emotional foundation is grounded in one of trust, safety, and a desire to continue to connect.
What this looks like
If your teenager/s are exhibiting behaviors that are noticeably different to normal: yet you’re aware that they are still exhibiting creative habits and a desire to feel understood: songwriting might be just what your young person is looking for.
By offering young people creative support towards creatively expressing their mood, feelings, and mental health: you’ll often find they are suddenly able to
- manage stress more effectively
- discuss their experiences – including teen depression – more objectively with you and/or their audience
- spend time more productively rather than in low energy circles
- listen more effectively, as they begin to feel more heard by you when they present their music or song
Okay, so they’re communicating…. but so what?
When your teens start to express themselves and essentially communicate their thoughts and feelings through songwriting, it leads to many positive outcomes. Your once sullen teen will be able learn better at school; they’re physically healthier now that he/she/they is less stressed out from the daily grind of life on his own without help coming from an outside source like parents or teachers in class constantly telling them what not to do . The calm demeanor helps make this process work better because there isn’t any emotional turmoil wreaking havoc within their minds while trying desperately to get some peace during day to day responsibilities.
… Now what?
You are on the right track with your teenager. The lines of communication have been opened, and you will see that both you and they feel better now than before when things started getting tense at home or school!
They are beginning to find their voice, and re-establish a relationship with you by first feeling heard. It’s important that you continue to foster these feelings of validation, calm, and support. With every lyric they write: recognize the artistic freedoms versus their prayer for recognition. With every song they perform for you: understand that this is their way of talking – it is your job to simply listen.
And yes: you might feel pressured from time to time to strive for parent of the year, but give yourself permission to pause for minute. Take a deep breath. Remember that many parents feel like this. Often. When in reality, all many teens want is to feel heard. Understood. Noticed. Recognized for their effort. Appreciated.
And while many parents understand that validation needs to come from within before it can truly be accepted externally: songwriting is a great way for your young person to start taking charge of their emotions, behavior and life. Songwriting is an incredible tool for helping your teen speak their their own advice into existence, reduce their overwhelm so that they can focus better, argue less, temper one’s mood, and – of course – reconnect with you: their parent/parents again.
If you’re interested in learning more specific tips on how you can more actively encourage your teen to write their anxiety, overwhelm, stress or depression into a tool for taking responsibility, improving their mental health, and overall behaviors, click here to hop on a call with me to see if songwriting might be the answer you’ve been looking for.