Parenting a teenager can be both challenging and rewarding.
Many teens have conflicting feelings about growing up and aren't yet able to
gracefully manage these emotions. They can be inconsistent with their
affections, argumentative, and at times even hurtful. As your teen struggles
with becoming independent, it is natural for him or her to detach from you at
times. Remember that your teen still needs you. Although he or she may not ever
let on, your unconditional love and guidance are important and valued.
The following suggestions may help you communicate with and support your
teenager during a time of uncertainty and change:
Stay connected. Go to your
teen's games and performances. This tells your teen that he or she is important
and opens the door to communication.
Give your teen responsibilities. Assign jobs around the house, such as caring for
younger siblings, cooking one night a week, making his or her own lunch, and
other responsibilities. Trusting your teen with regular duties helps build
self-confidence and promotes a sense of accomplishment.
Set clear rules. Remove emotion from discipline, and
focus on natural consequences. If you are firm, fair, and consistent about your
rules, your teen will know what to expect. Also, doing this helps you to respond to
problems appropriately. For example, if both you and your teen know the
consequence of missing curfew, it will prevent you from reacting leniently
some of the time and overreacting other times.
Accept that your way isn't the only way. Recognize that your
teen will likely approach tasks or situations differently than you. For
example, your teen may do homework with a headset on while lying on the floor
of his or her extremely messy room. You may view this as an undisciplined and
chaotic environment that makes it impossible to concentrate. But focus on the
outcomes. If your teen consistently gets good grades, accept that his or her
Be flexible. Teens want and
need boundaries with limits that fit their age and development. As your teen
matures, change rules as appropriate to reward responsible behavior. Also,
realize that being fair sometimes means agreeing to bend the rules. Teens are
less likely to resent a parent who discusses situations rationally and in an
adult manner. Sometimes finding a compromise with your teenager is the most
effective solution, because teens, like most people, often react poorly to too
many hard-and-fast rules.
Believe in your teen. Recognize that we all go through difficult phases. Although some teens
struggle, most teens manage common challenges without major problems. Many
teens develop a sense that they are not living up to an idealized view of how
they should be. Accept that your teen is not perfect and will inevitably make
some mistakes. Let him or her know your love is
Help your teen set goals.
Teens learn how to think strategically when parents encourage them to set goals
and help them develop a plan to reach them.
Listen. It sounds so simple, but it is one communication skill
that parents often have the most trouble with. Be sensitive to and alert for
cues that your teen needs to talk. Don't be quick to offer advice—give it only
if requested. Sometimes teens just need someone to listen to them. They often
can find the right answers by themselves.
Set an example. Strive to model your own beliefs and values in your behaviors
so that your child can emulate not only what you say but also what you do. To
encourage community involvement, for example, you could volunteer together with
your child. As your teen nears adulthood, he or she will pay more and more
attention to your actions.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.