Deborah Burke Henderson, SADD

Glenn Greenberg, Liberty Mutual
(617) 574-5874

Three Tips for Teen Transitions

  1. Identify important teen transitions.

  2. Communicate about or recognize and celebrate these important life events.

  3. Encourage your teen to explore healthy growth opportunities.

Identify significant teen transitions.
Important transitions in adolescence can be a one-time thing, such as a first date, first job, or first driver’s license, or the gradual progression toward maturity, including physical, social, and emotional change. Figuring out which transitions are most important to your teen is a critical first step in helping him or her move to adulthood. What "counts" for one teen may not matter much to another teen. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Tune in to the things that seem important in his daily life.

  • Notice how she spends her days so you can flag changes.

  • Ask how he feels about different transitions.

  • Note how he talks about transitions with friends.

  • Talk about important transitions in your own adolescence.

  • Watch for signs of happiness, joy, stress, anxiety, or depression surrounding change.

Communicate about and recognize or celebrate important life events.
Sending the message that you are "dialed in" to your teen as he takes significant steps along the path to adulthood is an important way to say "I love you, I care about you, and I hear you!" Teens look for signals that they are making real progress toward becoming adults and care very much what you think about them, even if they don’t always show it. Here is what you can do.

  • Talk regularly – and casually (teens hate "the big talk") – about the transitions you see him tackling.

  • Recognize these transitions through small gifts, privileges, words, or deeds.

  • Celebrate with a party, a family dinner, or just a special time alone.

Encourage your teen to explore healthy growth opportunities.
In the middle of a society that pays little attention to adolescent transition stand some time-tested organizations that offer teens real opportunities for achievement and reward. Here are some ways you can help.

  • Point him toward structured, goal-oriented activities where recognition and appreciation are built in.

  • Identify extracurricular opportunities that will promote her development through the progression of skills or contributions. Some organizations such as summer camps, service-learning clubs, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have embedded rites of passage.

  • Encourage him to invest time and effort in clubs, activities, or athletics with a clear path toward advancement.

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