(U.S.) – Parenting teenagers can often feel like a feat you simply aren’t prepared for, but a new study is offering some insight on how to make your kiddos feel loved.
Psychologist John Coffey and his colleagues surveyed more than 150 teens (ages 13-16) and their parents. Participants were mostly white and all living in two-parent households in the U.S. They were surveyed for 21 days.
At the end of each day, the parent received a survey about warmth and conflict in their relationship with their teenager. Warmth included the amount of praise, understanding, and affection they showed toward their child that day and conflict included how much anger and tension existed between them. Additionally, the teenagers were asked one question each evening: how much they felt loved by their parents that day.
Researchers discovered that the children most often felt loved at moderately to high levels, but fluctuations over the 21 day period did exist. They also found that some teens even felt as though they weren’t’ loved at all by their parents on some days.
Researchers found, as expected, that the teens tended to feel more loved on the days their parents showed more warmth and less loved on days that included more conflict with their parents. However, an interesting component they discovered was that on the days when parents were warmer, any conflict between them didn’t seem to have as great of an impact on how loved the teenagers felt.
Coffey and his colleagues indicated the findings are important because a person’s emotional experiences can influence an adolescent’s coping skills in ways that may affect their well-being in the long-term. Studies have suggested that when teens regularly feel unloved for long periods of time, they become a greater risk for mental illness such as depression.