5 Ways to Connect Your Teen With Positive Role Models

5 Ways to Connect Your Teen With Positive Role Models

Experts explain how to create and foster good role models for your teens.

By: Judy Koutsky

A good role model can inspire and motivate your teen to do well. Role models are also a great resource for kids when they need to get advice or guidance on a specific issue – especially in cases where they can’t go to their parents or need a sounding board before they do. Here, experts give tips on creating these useful and supportive relationships.

1. Choose a good role model for your child. Good role models can be coaches, teachers, mentors, spiritual leaders, or another individual your child admires. Try to remind your teen of the positive things that this role model is doing in his or her life, says Nekeshia Hammond, PsyD, a clinical psychologist. Remind your children how the person got through difficult times and how they, too, can be successful with their goals.

2. Pick a role model who will invest time in your child. “The teen years are confusing,” says licensed counselor Tasha H. Kornegay, PhD, LPC. There are a lot of different paths, not all of them good. Having positive influences will guide him when he needs it. Role models should ask teens “open-ended questions that encourage dialogue and a sense of sharing,” adds Kornegay.

3. The role model should display healthy coping skills. “Being a good role model is recognizing that you must choose healthy coping skills that a teen can model,” Hammond explains. Think about a coach, parent, or other adult – does the person scream and yell when upset? If so, it wouldn’t be surprising if your teen mirrored that. When picking a role model, find someone who is patient, kind, and handles frustrating situations in a calm manner, says Hammond. “Teens always have a choice between a healthy decision (say, calling or texting a friend when they are down) versus unhealthy choices (drugs, alcohol, skipping school), so the more they see individuals in their lives that use good choices, the better tools they have to deal with negative peer pressure.”


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4. Help them foster an ideal role model relationship. You don’t want it to come across as forced. Instead, says Kornegay, “A great way to bond is finding a hobby that you both have in common, then do it together.” So if it’s a coach, maybe your teenager and the coach can see a sports event together. Or if it’s an uncle-nephew, maybe they can go on a fishing trip together. Role models are not only very important in your child’s life for guidance and direction, but they can also provide long-lasting memories.

5. Parents should be role models. And, of course, your child may have many friends, but he only has two parents. Your job is not to be your child’s buddy but to lead by example. “One of the most important things to remember is to maintain healthy, appropriate boundaries with your teen. Although sometimes a tough balance, it is important to recognize that being a parent is crucial, as opposed to being a friend,” says Hammond.

Who are your kids’ role models? How have you helped foster these relationships?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on twitter @JudyKoutsky.

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