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How can we raise resilient teenagers? Advice from teen expert psychologist Collett Smart

Toorak College
Aug 27, 2018 10:56:28 AM

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Raising a teenager to be resilient is becoming a harder process due to more external influences including social media, friendships and increased workloads looming in our child’s everyday life, according to teen expert and psychologist Collett Smart. 

Parenting can have its ups and downs, and one of the negative aspects is the association of guilt parents can feel when raising a child, the most common reason being they believe they are bringing them up incorrectly.

“I think parents suffer a lot of guilt, so I am always cautious about telling parents they are messing up. I try to encourage parents to look for things they are doing well and then look for things they might improve on (because we can all improve in areas).”

Another area of parenting that can be associated with guilt is the approach and delivery of raising a teenager. Should you be a soft parent? Should you be strict? There is no ‘one-answer-fits-all’ as each child is different and will respond to instruction in various ways, however, Collett Smart suggests that an authoritative approach will give a friendly balance to being supportive and also structured.

“We know from research that an Authoritative Parenting style works best. In other words, not being a dictator but also not trying to be your child’s new best friend. A warm but firm and loving parent is what we are aiming for,” she said.

With other social impacts such as friendships manifesting or falling apart, social media influencing how children should think, dress and act, it is important to keep showing your teenager that you are supportive of them to be their best version of themselves.

“Some of the mistakes parents make currently are mostly around how to effectively address online issues with their children, But parents have more life experience than they realise, which still translates into their child’s online exchanges,” Ms Smart explained.

The reality with social media is that it is injected into our daily lives whether we like it or not. We live in a digital age where laptops, smartphones and robotics are the norm.  

“Social media not going away, so we need to help our children navigate this well.”

Ms Smart hosts workshops around Australia called Raising Resilient Teens, which covers how to harness resilience factors, the importance of facing mistakes and how to decrease influences that feed anxiety. She is a former teacher, school counsellor and now psychologist specialising in child and teen mental health. Ms Smart is also an ambassador for  International Justice Mission Australia.

Guest speaker Collett Smart hosted a Raising Resilient Teens workshop at Toorak College on Wednesday 29 August. 

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