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What Are the Most Important Things in a Teenager's Life?

by Ashley Miller

It can be a challenge for teenagers to live well-balanced lives. With school, friends and family commitments, many teens might feel they don't have enough time in a day. Medical professionals point out that teens can benefit from finding a healthy balance with all of their responsibilities. Prioritizing the things that are most important and cutting out those that are less significant can help your teen create a well-rounded life.

Sleepy Time

Sleep might not be high on your teen's list of priorities, but it's one of the most important things a teen needs to maintain health and well-being. Yet the average teen doesn't get enough sleep. According to the Nationwide Children's Hospital, the average teen gets about seven to seven-and-a-quarter hours -- but actually needs between nine and nine-and-a-half hours -- of sleep each night. Some teens may even require more, while some can function at an optimal level with less sleep. Helping your teen develop and stick to a regular sleep schedule can benefit her biological clock, help her achieve better sleep quality and help her feel more rested and energized in the morning.

Social Butterflies

Having close, loyal friendships is a vital component of the lives of most teenagers. One of the developmental goals of adolescence is separation and individuation -- meaning that your teen will start to move away from the family unit and seek the approval and company of his peers. Without adequate friendships, teens start to feel lonely, have lower levels of self-esteem and might even perform poorly in school, according to the University of Illinois Extension website. Cultivating meaningful friendships helps your teen feel supported and provides him with a sense of stability during the turbulent adolescent years.

Family Matters

Many parents might assume that teens don't really want to spend time with their families. After all, since one of the goals of adolescence is separating from the family unit, it seems logical that most teens would rather associate with peers. But according to psychologist Dr. Scott Wooding in an article for "Calgary's Child Magazine," most adolescents need and long for family time -- and especially time with their parents. Wooding suggests planning trips and family outings in advance and asking for your teen's input. If your teen already has social plans, he might respond negatively to your offer to spend time together, but if he feels he has a say in your plans, he might be more likely to respond with enthusiasm.

Just the Way They Are

Just as teens want to be accepted by their peer group, they also need to feel accepted and understood by their parents. Not only do teens want to feel that their parents are interested in their lives, it's also important that they get their parents' approval, says Kimberly Kopko, Extension Associate in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University in a publication for the Cornell University Cooperative Extension. Demonstrating unconditional love and acceptance can help your teen cope with the trials of adolescence and help her feel connected and safe while she navigates the challenges of the teen years.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

Photo Credits

  • Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images