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How to Have Resilience Building Conversations with Your Teenager

July 12, 2017 by HealthyFamilies BC

Parenting a teenager: conversations that build resilience

You may remember. Being a teenager is not easy. Teenagers are faced with new situations and challenges, and with those come new stresses.

How your teenager is affected by life situations, what they see online, or in TV shows isn’t always in your control. But you can help them build resilience – an important resource that will go a long way in helping them overcome negative experiences.

Building resiliency, especially during childhood and adolescence, equips young people with the skills to:

  • cope with challenges
  • think through negative feelings
  • bounce back from bad experiences
  • move forward in the face of adversity

How can you build resiliency in your teen?

Prepare teenagers for the challenges they will face by having conversations that foster resilience.

  1. Listen. Take time to really listen to your teen. Good listening shows them you respect their thoughts, opinions, and helps build trust. Read more.
  2. Be a role model. Healthy self-reflection can help you be a positive model. Share with teens what you like about your own behaviour and what you might improve with practice or effort. Also, ask your child what they observe others doing well. Read more.
  3. Allow for learning moments and reflection. Let your teen face situations that are both positive and negative. Assure them you are there for support. Ask your teen to reflect on what happened and the actions they took before giving them feedback. This helps them identify what they did well, what kind of effort they put in, and what they learned. Read more.
  4. Get them thinking about their future. Talk about the future with your teen. What are their short term-and long term goals? Where would they like to see themselves in 5 years?  10 years?  What could they do now to help make those dreams a reality? Setting realistic goals and achieving them is a good way to build resilience. Use this tool to help your teen set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
  5. Coach effective coping. Help your teen tune into their body – explain how the physical signs of stress are actually healthy ways the body gets ready for action, not signs of looming failure. Teach healthy coping skills and self-sufficiency so they can learn ways to de-stress. For example, show them how to take slow deep breaths and feel the difference between tension and relaxation. Read more.

Resilience is what allows us to look after ourselves when life doesn’t go as planned.

Creating strong connections with your teen through conversation, support and interest will help them make healthy decisions and build resilience for managing life’s stresses.

Some young people have a harder time in their teenage years and face more challenges than others. Go to Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre or BC Mental Health & Addiction Services for information on mental health and well-being. If you, your child or someone you know needs emotional support visit Children and teens can also call the Kids Help Phone to speak to a counsellor at 1-800-668-6868 or visit the website.

Take any mention of suicide seriously. If you are concerned that someone you know is considering suicide, get help right away. Learn more about the warning signs of suicide in children and teens. Suicide assessment and intervention are available from Crisis Lines across British Columbia – call the Crisis Line Association of British Columbia at 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE). Visit Crisis Centre – Get Help for more places to get help. Call 9-1-1 if you are in an emergency.

Related blogs

Resilience: Bouncing Back in Difficult Times
5 Essential Steps to Build Your Child's Confidence

Recommended resources

Parenting a Teen
HealthLink BC: Using conversations to teach resilience: Teens
HealthLink BC: Building Kids’ Resilience
HealthLink BC: Warning Signs of Suicide in Children and Teens
HealthLink BC: Suicidal Thoughts or Threats
The Friends Program



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