Last year, a new student from South Korea enrolled in our school. He barely spoke any English and didn’t know anyone at school. I thought he’d have a terrible day and find it difficult to fit in for the next several weeks. Well, I was wrong!
Imagine my surprise when this student confidently strolled into the classroom, attempted to introduce himself to his fellow students, and then showed a video of him playing basketball in Korea! Huh? What did this kid have that made him so different from the rest of my new international students who usually tried to hide for a month? The difference was, this teen was great at adapting to change, and with that skill came confidence and optimism. By the end of his first day, he already made friends and learned some new Texas slang!
One of the best things we can do as parents is to help our teens learn how to adapt to change because, as our teens mature, they become more independent and face more challenges. As a teen mindset coach and middle school teacher, I assure you that your teen’s ability to adapt to changes big and small is an essential part of their future success. Their ability to adapt and be flexible can empower them to navigate through life with less stress and more confidence.
Here are 3 simple ways to help your teen to adapt to change:
Empowering Your Teens: Adapting to Change
1. ACCEPTANCE: Accept that change is inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing
We tend to resist what we don’t understand or what we don’t like. At some point, though, we need to accept that change is going to happen and we need to take ownership of our thoughts and feelings surrounding it. Yes, acceptance can be hard, but the good news is, it’s also an active process that can be cultivated. You can help your teen by offering encouragement and support whenever you notice them being resistant to change. Remind your teen that it’s okay to have those feelings. Help them understand how their resistance is affecting their experience of that change. Suggest ways to move through their resistance faster, so they can get back to focusing on other, more productive things.
2. OPPORTUNITIES: Look for opportunities that accompany change
Change may be hard, but it isn’t always bad. While we might not like why change happens, usually good opportunities follow. You can help your teen look for these opportunities by guiding them to look for silver linings. For example, if your family is moving to a new city or school, instead of focusing on the negative aspects (like not knowing anyone and having to make new friends), encourage your teen to think about the space they now have to spread their wings, their freedom to meet new people, and the possibilities to try different activities.
3. PLANNING: Create a plan for how to deal with these changes
It’s easier to overcome obstacles and challenges if we’re prepared. A plan of action gives us a sense of control and security. It keeps us from feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. You can help your teen create a plan for how they’ll deal with changes they face. Encourage them to come up with at least two ways to approach each situation. A Plan B might be helpful! Also, help your teen brainstorm what could go wrong, so they know what to look out for.
Of course, you can’t protect your teen from all of life’s challenges, but by teaching them these three principals—Acceptance, Opportunities, and Planning—you’ll help them become more confident and resourceful so they can embrace change and look for opportunities in situations that others might see as obstacles.