Parenting is one of life’s craziest adventures; and just when you think you’re catching a break, something else always seems to pop up. Do you have a teen on your hands? Embrace yourself for terrible twos, teenage edition.
The teenage years are a major time for self-exploration; your teen is starting to realize that they have a voice and are trying to figure out how to use it. Their transition into adulthood is a tricky one and it’s your responsibility to guide them along this journey. Even though your teen might act like they don’t want anything to do with you anymore, they need you now more than ever before. So, how do you effectively parent your teen, especially when you’re met with such resistance?
Try These Tips to Effectively Parent Your Teen
1. Set a good example
As with young children, the teenage mind is still developing; remember that your teen is watching your every move like a hawk. You’ve heard it before, but your kids need a parent, not a best friend. They need your mentorship, not your friendship.
A big part of parenting is the way you handle arguments with your teen. You already know they can have quite a temper; this is because your teen is still young and in the process of navigating their emotions. While it may be tempting to blow up right back at them, you need to be the positive role model. Take a step back and respond appropriately. They will respect you more for this and they’ll learn the responsible way to handle arguments. Plus they’ll probably feel a little ridiculous about their initial response.
2. Be a good listener
Your teen needs a safe space to process their feelings and explore their thoughts. Ensure that your household, you and your spouse, are the safe place for them. It’s important for your teen to have parents they can trust and lean on. Try to remember what it was like when you were in high school – it wasn’t easy.
Learn to talk less and listen more. You don’t have to agree with everything your teen is saying, but try not to interrupt them and insert your opinion. Doing this will only make them feel shut down. While you may think it’s beneficial to share your opinions and your input with them, it will only backfire in the end. They will no longer feel comfortable sharing anything with you if they know you’re always going to shut them down.
3. Spend more time together
Sharing positive experiences with one another will draw your teen closer to you. Have fun together, share meals together, laugh together and remember that talking isn’t the sole form of communication. The more positive memories you create together, the closer you’ll remain in the long run. Teens don’t always just want to chat with their parents, so sharing interests is a good way to spend quality time together.
4. Set reasonable rules
Rule setting is perhaps the trickiest part of parenting; while it’s not fun for either party, it’s necessary for both. It’s vital for you as a parent to remember that rules are NOT a form of punishment and they do NOT allow you to be a dictator. Rules are set in order to help maintain structure and should be used as a teaching opportunity.
Be reasonable with your rule setting. Setting your standards too high will just set your kids up for failure. The more they fail, the more disappointed they’ll be. Disappointed teens do not make for a happy family. Plus, if your standards are too high, they may not even seek to uphold them. It’s also important to refrain from ultimatums; teens are teens and will view an ultimatum as an opportunity to challenge you.
Explaining the rules you set is also critical. Don’t just create a rule and walk away; your teen will be much more likely to respect you and obey the rules if they understand the reasoning behind them. For example, setting a curfew isn’t just to kill their fun, but to ensure their safety.
Parenting your crazy teen can make you feel like the crazy one. Just remember – there is no perfect way to parent. If you've tried these tips, and your teen seems depressed, anxious, or angry beyond what seems like "normal teenage angst", ask them if they would like to talk to a counselor for some additional support. Therapy can be very helpful for teens by giving them an unbiased, unemotional adult in their life that does not judge and merely listens to what they are going through.
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