Approaching the teen years, there are several things that both the parents and the child may not be ready for. I for one will admit that the teen years caught me by surprise. From the abrupt change in emotions to the all of a sudden burst in independence, I often questioned if I knew what I was really doing. After basically deciding to go with the flow, I started addressing one thing at a time, one of those “things” being healthy routines.
What are healthy routines, really?
Of course we can look up Webster’s dictionary term of what routines are, but let’s be honest for a moment. We first need to reflect on what we personally see routines as and how we handle them as adults. Looking from the perspective of daily habits, do you have routines established for yourself? What do they consist of? And, how consistent are they?
You see, I’ve come to realize that routines are really about actions taken care of for my time and energy. In a nutshell, it’s this same understanding that I’d like my son to have so when he’s much older, this will be instilled in them and not something he’ll have to figure out. I want my son to see how valuable his time is and to be intentional about the actions he chooses to fill it with.
Benefits of Creating Healthy Routines with Your Teen
Think about how much more smoothly life seems to flow when everything has a place, space, and meaning. Not to say that it’s pure chaos without those things, but predictable and consistent routines are some of the biggest contributors to calm mornings, relaxing weekends, and flowing days in between. In addition to the benefits today, establishing healthy routines now will serve him well as an adult. And that’s really the main reason we parent, right? To make sure we end up with well-functioning adults.
Scientifically speaking, there are parts of a teenagers brain that are still developing, particularly the parts dealing with rational thinking and problem-solving. This is why you may notice your teen or young adult being more of a risk-taker and boundary-tester, who looks the furthest thing from consistent. It’s truly because they need help with these areas, and creating structure early on is one way to help the most. With this mind, let’s look at some ways to help your teen establish some healthy routines.
How to Help Your Teen Establish Healthy Routines
Remembering that we’re talking about kids here, it’s important to always consider the developmental age of your child. A 13 year-old boy may be that in number, but mentally be hanging out around 11 or 12. A 13 year-old girl may be that in number, but she could have the mindset of a 15 year old. This is important when considering having the “routine talk” with your kids. Speaking of which…
Have the conversation naturally with your teen.
As parents who already have the majority of the answers to their problems, we’d love more than anything to jump right into, “Here’s what you need to do and why.” But, again, if your teen isn’t ready, it will only come off as another order that they don’t want to take and will meet it with ongoing resistance. However, if you listen (and watch) your teen, you’ll know the right time to have this conversation. They may show signs by mentioning they’re often tired or stressed about not finishing projects or school work. Or, they may come on out and ask for help with figuring out a better way of managing their day or time. If you’re teen has begun a new part-time job, you may notice him having difficulty “getting it all done.” This is how the conversation about healthy routines and time management came about in our home. So it may be a good time to delve into this topic for your family, if you haven’t already helped your teen establish healthy routines at a younger age.
Share your routine journey.
Although you and your teen live in the same home, they still may not have a clue as to what your family member routines are, let alone how you’ve established them. While it may be obvious that Dad goes to work, comes home, reads a couple of newspapers, eats dinner, spends a little time with the family, and then goes to bed, how that routine was established will be a mystery to your teen at first. Dads are just superheroes that know how to get it all done, right?
In actuality, it may be the stay-at-mom of the home who has more set routines that Dad even. So use your personal routine schedule as a way to connect with your teen and ease them into creating one for themselves. Be completely transparent and even share your setbacks or inconsistencies. There may be a deeper connection made when they realize you’re not perfect nor are you asking them to be.
Help them establish a small routine.
Instead of kicking off with a full day’s routine, start with something small such as a hygiene routine like brushing their teeth every day and flossing every night. If you’re a mom of boys like me, getting them to shower regularly is a great start. (It’s okay to laugh and say “ew”, I do it all the time.) The primary goal is to get them started on something manageable and not overwhelming. Even a routine work-out three days a week, or making sure he awakens and eats breakfast each day at the same time is a good way to begin.
Offer support through accountability.
Some teens may want to keep a journal or calendar while others settle for a quick verbal acknowledgement. Regardless of the kind of teen you have, meet them where they’re at. Get them that planner, calendar, phone app, alarm clock, or whatever is needed to help them establish and keep the routine going. Casual check ins can also do wonders without seeming overbearing. Stay in tune with whether or not your teen needs or desires accountability and how often. While it’s normal for parents to want to be in the thick of things, remember, your teen is also in the midst of maturing out of being so dependent on mom or dad for everything. And too much interference can cause negative feels.
Discuss the different aspects of healthy routines.
Don’t leave out those important terms and definitions. While they don’t need the thesaurus versions, help them understand that keeping a routine is embedded in time management, self-care, and consistency. When these three things are considered, it can make for much smoother routines that don’t seem stressful. Help your teen make a list of these different areas of his life and jot down some ideas for where he needs to focus in each area. Brainstorming together can relieve some of the pressure and give you and your teen a chance to express main and secondary priorities.
Offer encouragement, words of affirmation, and positive reinforcements.
We’d like to think that doing these things will cripple our teens, but in fact, it will only make them more resilient. Think about all the planners with positive words and posters we have to keep ourselves motivated as adults. Our teens need the same things whether they realize it or not. Checking in sporadically followed by a “good job, I like the way you’re (fill in the blank)” will do wonders for their confidence in the process.
Raising teens isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day they still need our guidance, even into young adulthood. As with most other things in life, take this aspect one day at a time. If your teen isn’t a good routine keeper (yet), give them grace and continue to meet them where they’re at. Although they may show signs of resistance or down right rebellion, the ways you are teaching them will stick and be remembered in the years to come. Trust the process, momma.