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You can’t always stop your teen from facing problems. They're a fact of life. From everyday issues like falling out with friends or exam stress to more serious problems like family illness or bereavement, they’re bound to face some challenges in their teen years.

But you can help them deal with these ups and downs by helping them become more resilient. Resilience is being able to adapt to different situations and difficult times. It’s more than just coping – it’s coping well, and moving forwards by building on what we’ve learnt in the past.

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Tips for helping teens build resilience

Tip #1: Be there for them

Dad and teen son smiling

If your teenager knows you're there for them, it will help. It will give them confidence if they know you’re there when you’re needed. Encourage them to speak to their friends or to staff at school or other trusted adults in their life too.

Read our pages on talking to your teen, feeling prepared for the teen years and supporting your teen’s mental health for tips to help your relationship.

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Tip #2: Keep things in perspective

Focus on facts, not worst case scenarios. Encourage your teen to talk through problems with you and as they do, ask them to concentrate on the facts and the things that can be dealt with. Tell them there’s no point worrying about things that haven’t happened and might never even happen – easier said than done, but if you talk through all the possible outcomes of a problem, they may see that the worst case scenario is not the only or even the most likely outcome.

Try to help them to see the bigger picture. Just because one thing’s gone wrong doesn’t mean everything else will. Our page on mental health advice for parents has tips on keeping calm and staying positive.

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Tip #3: Keep calm and relax

Doing relaxing exercises regularly (like breathing exercises, yoga or meditation) can help them deal with stress. They might think it sounds weird, but assure them it can really help.

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Tip #4: Focus on the here and now

If they’re going over and over something in their head, encourage them to focus on the present. For example, if they’re worrying about failing an exam, try to get them to think about what they can do now to stop that from happening, like studying or getting a good night’s sleep.

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Tip #5: Don’t solve their problems for them

Challenges and problems are part of everyday life. Becoming an adult means learning to deal with them. If something goes wrong, don’t be tempted to swoop in and sort everything out for them. Help them find solutions themselves by talking it through with them, and breaking down big scary tasks into a series of manageable steps.

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Tip #6: Give them time and space to make friends

Two teen boys taking a selfie

Having friends they can enjoy good times with can help your teen deal with problems. Encourage them to spend time with their friends and help them find opportunities to make new ones.

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Tip #7: Praise them regularly

Don’t be afraid to give them praise, even for the small things. Point out strengths they have or things they've done or the effort they’ve put in. They may not show it, but they will appreciate it. It also boosts their self-esteem and self-respect. This helps them value themselves and have the confidence to deal with their problems.

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Tip #8: Help them develop self-compassion

Self-compassion is about not being too hard on yourself. As parents we’re often way too hard on ourselves, and this attitude can be catching, so try to cut yourself some slack as well.

Help them develop self-compassion by emphasising things they’re doing well rather than criticising them for things that have gone wrong.

Self-compassion can also involve silencing the little voice in your head that tells you you’re doing everything wrong – you could suggest they talk to themselves in the same way they’d talk to a friend, with kindness, respect and gentleness.

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Tip #9: Help them deal with change

The teen years are filled with change and that can be exciting if not scary for anyone. And resisting change can cause problems. You can help prepare them for the changes in their life by talking them through with them. Try not to impose changes on them without discussing it first so they understand and hopefully accept it.

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Tip #10: Let them have some control


Teens may feel that lots of things are out of their control, so help them take charge of the things they can control. It could be deciding on their own routine for balancing school, homework and seeing friends and family. It could be things like when they go to bed, or even what they have for tea. Giving them ownership of things like this will help them feel more in control of their lives. It will also help prepare them for adulthood.

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Tip #11: Help them see failing as a way of learning

When you’re a teenager, failing at something can seem like the worst thing in the world. Try to help them see it really isn’t. When they mess something up, help them see what they can learn from it. How could they have done it differently? Did they get some of it right? And praise them for the effort they put in or the way they approached it.

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Tip #12: Encourage them to be patient, persistent and to practise

Good things come to those who wait – but waiting and being patient can be really hard when you’re young (and even when you’re older!). If they’re trying to learn something new or get better at something, remind them that it’s likely to take time and encourage them to stick with it. Remind them that breaking big challenges up into smaller tasks and recognising the wins along the way can really help.

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