Few birthdays are as exciting as your thirteenth. Sure, when you turn 16 you can get a driver’s license, and yes, at 65 you get those sweet senior discounts, but your thirteenth birthday is a big one. After all, it’s the day you become a teenager!
As children turn 13, they officially enter their teenage years. This transition from childhood to teendom is pretty eventful. Many things you can do at 13 years old and beyond, like entering middle school, working, dating, managing finances, developing new friendships, and learning good technology habits can make a child’s teenage years exciting—and pretty complicated.
With a little help, however, your child’s teenage years can be some of the best of their life. So for all you newly certified parents of teens looking for advice for 13 year olds, here are ten things every 13-year-old should know.
1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Level with me: have you ever found yourself scrolling through a celebrity’s social media account and thinking, “They’re so much prettier than me” or “I wish I had their life?”
If you answered yes, you’re not alone: we’re all guilty of comparison, and chances are, your teen has likewise fallen into the comparison trap. While a little competition can be healthy, constantly comparing yourself to your peers can have some pretty negative consequences. In fact, studies have found that frequent social comparison is responsible for decreased self-esteem and increased symptoms of depression and anxiety amongst teens.
If your child is struggling with comparison, teach them to look at their own progress instead of everyone else’s! How have they changed in the past few months? What have they learned? How have they grown? What have they accomplished now that their past self would be proud of? Encourage your teen to a second to be grateful for how far they’ve come. Then, get them excited for the positive changes that are still to come!
2. Trust Yourself
This one’s good advice for all of us: trust yourself.
As your child enters teendom, they might find themselves in situations that make them uncomfortable. For example, a friend might offer them alcohol or ask them to watch an R-rated movie with them. Your teen knows themself better than anyone. Teach your child to listen to their gut feeling when a situation feels wrong and stay strong in the face of peer pressure.
It might be hard, but trusting themselves and following their own path, even when it diverges from the path of their friends, will save your kids a lot of stress and heartache in the future.
3. Learn How to Manage Money
As a teenager, your child might start working a part-time job. Working is a great way to gain experience and make new friends—and make a little extra cash of their own. However, all that extra money can be hard to keep track of. With so many fun things to spend it on, it can disappear in the blink of an eye if your child isn’t careful.
As your teen earns their own money, prioritize teaching them how to manage their finances. Show your kids how to make a budget, and encourage them to stick to it. You can help them open their own bank account, save up for big purchases, and set a little bit aside for a rainy day.
4. Be Proud of Who You Are
If your childhood years are for figuring out how the world works, your teen years are for figuring out how you work. Instead of asking “what are 13-year-olds interested in?” ask your child what they’re interested in.
Help your child learn about who they are and who they want to be—and teach them to be proud of themselves! Their unique interests, talents, passions, dreams, and ideas make them unlike any other person. That’s something to be pretty proud of, if you ask me.
5. Be Careful Online
The Internet is an exciting place to share creative work, connect with friends, and play cool games like Roblox and Fortnite. However, it’s not always sunshine and roses on the World Wide Web. Inappropriate language, mature content, and villains like hackers, identity thieves, and child predators make the Internet dangerous for people of all ages.
As your child matures and learns how to explore the Internet safely, remind them to be careful in their online interactions. They should avoid sharing personal information, verify that their online friends are who they say they are, and never agree to meet up with a stranger in real life. Lastly, encourage your kids to be open with you about what they do online. Help them understand that you’re there to support them and help them stay safe online.
6. Trust Your Parents
TV shows and movies make it seem uncool to listen to your parents, but you and I both know the media has it wrong. You as parents are there to help your kids grow and mature. Show them that they can feel comfortable asking you questions by taking time to really listen and answer. Building a strong relationship with your teen will make their teenage years so much easier.
7. Find Friends that Make You Happy
As they grow up and enter middle school, your teen’s friendships might similarly change and grow. As their friendships develop, remind them to prioritize spending time with friends that make them happy. Laughing with good friends is one of the best parts of being a teenager.
If your teen’s friends don’t make them feel comfortable or confident, it may be time for them to search for some new pals. Teach them to find friends that make them laugh, inspire confidence and creativity, and help them feel good about who they are. After all, your friends are the people we spend the most time with (other than family), so it’s important that your teen surrounds themselves with some good ones.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
The word no is pretty powerful and can save your teen a lot of anxiety. If something makes them uncomfortable or doesn’t align with their personal values, they shouldn’t put up with it! Teach them that it’s okay to say “no” and stand up for what they believe in. It might be difficult, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from standing up for yourself feels so good. Who knows, they might even inspire their peers to follow their own convictions!
9. Don’t Spend All Your Time on Screens
Let’s be honest: screen time can be pretty great. Video games aid in developing problem-solving skills, art apps help us develop our creativity, and social media keeps us connected with friends and family. With all these amazing opportunities at our fingertips, it can be tempting to sink all of our time into screens—but this does more harm than good.
Our eyes weren’t made to stare at bright lights all day. Looking at a screen for too long can actually make your teen develop Computer Vision Syndrome. It can also cause them to miss out on the exciting parts of life, like pursuing hobbies and developing their relationships.
Teach your teen to enjoy life without the screen. Take them on a hike, play a new instrument, or encourage them to have a conversation with a friend. If your kiddo has a Troomi phone, work with them to set a time limit on their apps so they can prioritize real life. After all, there are so many benefits to unplugging from technology for a day!
10. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Wanna know the best piece of advice for 13 year olds? Have fun!
Between the demands of high school, extra-curricular activities, and a potential part-time job, your child’s teenage years can be pretty stressful. While it’s important that they keep one eye trained on success, remind them to let their other eye focus on something just as vital: having fun.
Your child’s teenage years are some of the most exciting and eventful of their life. Because they don’t have to worry about college or a full-time job, they’re able to focus on friends, family, and a whole lot of fun. Encourage them to start a new hobby, make a ton of new friends, and let themselves laugh as they go.