If you have a child who doesn’t fit in, don’t focus on the negative aspects of being different. Embrace your child’s unique qualities and mold-breaking behaviors. Learn how to support a teen who doesn’t color inside the lines.
Support your child’s unique choices
It’s harder than ever to classify teens into types, and this is a good thing. Instead of labeling your kid, learn how to embrace the behaviors, hobbies and choices that make him unique. Edgy doesn’t mean bad and being different isn’t a warning sign. Nurture your edgy teen as you learn about his sense of individuality.
Never tease your teen for being different
Does your teen prefer fashions that don’t fit in with what other kids are wearing? Does he spend more time playing role-playing games than he does playing sports? If your teen seems different from other kids or he has interests wildly different from your own, never tease him. Even kids who have a solid group of friends can be teased and ostracized for being different. As a parent, the last thing you want to do is contribute to your child’s insecurities. Be a source of support and understanding. Act as your child’s advocate when other family members question his interests or behaviors. Be there for him instead of making him feel like being different is bad.
Make an effort to understand your teen’s interests
Is your teen into anime, Tumblr blogs or larping? Do those words sound like Greek to you? Make an effort to learn about what your teen loves. Whether she sews her own costumes or listens to indie bands you’ve never heard of, you should show interest in her interests. You don’t need to become an aficionado yourself, but you should communicate clearly that you admire your teen’s dedication to her hobbies and that you’d love to learn more about them. Don’t be condescending. If and when your teen opens up, give her your full attention. Ask questions. Admit when you’re confused or befuddled. Give your teen a chance to share what she loves. You may be surprised by the depth of her enthusiasm, and that’s OK.
Develop balance between being a mom and a friend >>
Readjust your expectations
Always pictured yourself with a teen on the varsity team? Consider why you might feel uncomfortable with or disappointed in your teen’s choices. If you’re trying to slot your teen into your own expectations or your experiences as a teenager, adjust your expectations. Your teen is an individual who shouldn’t be expected to conform to anyone’s expectations. As long as you know your teen is healthy and safe, you should offer nothing but nurturing and acceptance. You may end up learning something from your teen as he embarks on a different lifestyle than the one you knew at his age.
Be supportive when it comes to bullying
Every kid experiences bullying at one time or another. Kids who have mainstream hobbies and behaviors may be less susceptible to bullying than kids who deliberately avoid the mainstream. If your teen is an outsider, by choice or not, support him when other kids treat him poorly. Help him make friends with similar interests and never ignore or blow off his sadness. Be aware of warning signs of depression and anxiety, such as declining performance in school and insomnia. However, don’t assume that being different or having unique tastes is a sign that there’s something wrong with your teen.
Learn how to take action to stop bullying >>
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