Educating Teens to Make Good Choices About Themselves and Their Future

teen feet standing in front of three arrows showing different ways to go.
teen feet standing in front of three arrows showing different ways to go.

The decisions teens make today have a profound impact on their future. Yet many teens aren’t given the proper education and tools required to make good choices. It’s crucial to give young adults guidance and resources without being overbearing or condescending.

Making mistakes is part of growing. The lessons received from errors in judgment provide excellent learning opportunities for teens to understand boundaries and consequences. However, when it comes to decisions with life-altering consequences, it’s essential to give young adults a foundation of knowledge and critical thinking skills to evaluate their options and choose wisely.

Teen Intervention Efforts

Risk-taking and pushing boundaries are normal parts of being a teenager. But, seeking out thrills and testing limits too far can become dangerous. Education efforts should focus on identifying high-risk behavior along with the common consequences that come from making a poor decision. Early teen intervention is key to preventing bad behaviors and irreversible consequences.

All teens require guidance, but special attention is required for those who demonstrate signs they are susceptible to peer pressure, or those with a history of making bad decisions. Common signs of risky behavior include engaging in unprotected sex, substance use, unhealthy attachment to social media, fighting, truancy, and illegal activities like vandalism.

Teen intervention with a combined effort from several authority figures, such as the teen’s school and their family can make the biggest impact. When the message is reinforced by multiple people, it tends to have a greater chance of being internalized. There are several effective methods to use:

  • Provide guidance and give your input without overdoing it.
  • Discuss the reasons behind the problem to identify the issue and what is causing it.
  • Start a conversation that gets your teen thinking about the consequences, both good and bad, of the choice they could make.
  • Talk about the emotions behind the decision.
  • Work together to come up with solutions and formulate a plan to move forward in a healthy way.

Encourage the teens in your life to talk about their problems and ask for help and advice when they need it. Make sure they have access to an adult that offers a friendly ear and can listen and discuss the situation without judgment or becoming upset. Providing a safe space and keeping a calm demeanor lets your teens know they can approach you about anything. It is the best form of teen intervention.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Education

Efforts to educate teenagers on pregnancy prevention must focus on the facts. Scare tactics and threats are ineffective and often drive teens to make poor decisions. It’s better to give them clear information so they understand the impact of their actions.

The only guaranteed way to avoid an unwanted teen pregnancy is to practice abstinence from sex. However, teenagers should be taught about all the options for preventing pregnancy, along with their effectiveness. Provide information on various contraceptives, like condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUD), and other forms of birth control. Make sure the teen understands how to use the product. For example, birth control pills are most effective when taken at the same time every day. They can also become ineffective if taken with certain prescription drugs, requiring a backup method like condoms while taking the medication.

Even with perfect use, contraceptives don’t work 100% of the time. There is always the chance the teen’s chosen method will fail, and they need to understand that this is a real possibility. Some choose to use condoms along with another method to decrease the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. Further, all teen pregnancy prevention education should include a reminder that they should use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Include information on health clinics and other resources where teens can go to get support.

No matter how committed you are to teach the facts to your teen so they can avoid pregnancy and other consequences of high-risk behavior, accidents happen. Teens face unique challenges when becoming parents. It’s never an easy job, and the stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. Teens that are shown nurturing skills and given tips on how to cope often adjust better and raise healthier, happier children.

Empowering Teen Parents to Make Good Choices

All too often, genuine attempts to help your teens come across as judgmental or restrictive. Getting too involved takes away the teenager’s ability to make their own life choices. This can lead to them having ongoing problems with decision-making later in life or cause them to lean heavily on the advice of others and not their own knowledge, morals, and values.

Instead, it’s best to work on offering information about techniques that help the teenager develop their own self-worth and learn the value of self-discipline. Many teens are impulsive and tend to choose the option that provides the most gratification in the short term. It’s important that they learn to weigh the consequences and consider the future as well.

So many people aren’t taught the basics of how to build up their self-esteem through caring, loving attention to their own needs. A positive sense of self is the first step for young adults to learn how to identify harmful behaviors and set boundaries with people and situations that could cause them to hurt.

Teens that are happy, emotionally healthy, and secure are typically better able to recognize the difference between good and bad relationships and focus on developing healthy attachments. Well-adjusted teenagers also tend to develop empathy for others that they practice throughout their lifetime, making them capable of deep and meaningful relationships.

Stress the importance of identifying and celebrating all talents and accomplishments. A healthy view of the self is critical for teens to develop resilience and adopt self-protective behaviors, even when faced with criticism and pressure from their peers.

These tactics are great for personal empowerment. Teens learn confidence and become more secure in who they are, which translates to a desire to make choices that align with their best interests and not cave in the face of peer pressure. Best of all, the knowledge they gain from their own personal empowerment enables them to be better teen parents to their own children.

Nurturing Parenting Programs Can Help

If you are looking for resources and support to help your teen, check out the programs available through One of our focuses is to assist teens with building good parenting skills that help them nurture their children and avoid falling into neglectful or abusive practices. Together we can help stop the cycle of child abuse and reduce the risk of teens falling into addictive and harmful behavior patterns. Visit our website to browse our products or contact us to learn more.