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Be A Positive Role Model For Your Teen

Updated on March 22, 2015

Your teenager is watching you and learning how to behave like an adult based on your actions. Are you an ethical, tolerant and mature role model for them? In this stage between childhood and adulthood, your teen may appear to be a responsible young adult one minute and an immature rebellious child the next. Keep your cool. They still look to you for protection and guidance, even when they won’t admit it and a rational, calm and loving parent can influence their daily choices considerably.

Being a consistent source of encouragement, rather than criticism will impact your relationship and ability to communicate with them and deepen their trust in you. Listening to their problems without judgment will likely be difficult, but is necessary if you want to keep the lines of communication flowing freely.

They will appreciate your efforts and respect your ability to keep your cool even when you don’t agree with their choices.

Your teen is learning from you.
Your teen is learning from you.
They really are listening.
They really are listening.

A Positive Role Model

Teens encounter a barrage of choices everyday. As a parent, you can tell them what to do in an authoritative manner (which will likely be met with anger and rebellion), you can hope they will make the choices you want them to make, or you can model the behavior you would like to see your child develop from the start. The best way to teach your teen positive habits and ethical behavior is to show them. Here are some general ideas and topics to think about and evaluate.

  • Health: It is ideal for teens to see you taking good care of yourself. Let them see you taking responsibility for your health and fitness levels. This means a healthy diet and exercise and a positive attitude and self-image. Negative comments about anyone’s weight or appearance can deeply influence how your child feels about their own body. Obviously, avoid improper use of alcohol, and any use of tobacco or illegal drugs.
  • Stress Management: If you can’t handle the stress of having a teenager, how can you expect your child to handle the stress of being a teenager? Find ways to manage your own stress levels and share them with your teen, or at least let them see you making the effort!
  • Conflict: When handling conflicts with in the family and in the world at large, be fair, honest and control your temper. Take responsibility for any part you may have played in the conflict. Say you are sorry if you were wrong. Avoid yelling and screaming, as this will simply encourage your teen to handle difficult situations in a similar manner. Remaining calm through a difficult situation will limit the stress and intensity your teen feels and help them learn to control their emotions.
  • Tolerance: Your teenager will take note of how you treat others. Go out of your way to be kind and compassionate. Using negative, derogatory or critical words in reference to other people will encourage the idea that it is okay to be disrespectful.
  • Service: Help others. You can do this on your own or together. Find a community service project for yourself. Opportunities are available to give of your time in a manner that you will enjoy. Most teens feel passionately about something, whether it is animal rights, the environment, feeding the homeless or teaching children to read. Community service is a positive way to spend time with your teen and will help take the focus off of the me, me, me mentality that is so common in our culture. Contributing your time to help someone else will be a fulfilling experience for both of you.
  • Learning: Make learning new things a daily adventure. Maintain a positive attitude about value of education. Continue to learn about new things for yourself, enabling them to see the value of lifelong learning.
  • Listening: Listen to your teen and try to reflect back to them their emotions. For example responding with “that must be disappointing” when they have expressed just that. This will let them know that you are actively listening and understand how they are feeling. Sometimes that is all they are looking for from you. Don’t follow up with a lecture! This will show them how to be a good listener and build communication skills.

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    • Parentwhisperer profile image

      Darren Curtis 4 years ago from Reading, UK

      Really great post. A great resource for helping teenagers with anxiety or depression are chapters two and five of the book "I'm a parent get me out of here, before I kill my teenager". It demonstrates how a parent or a teenager can change any negative self talk, which is illustrated with some very touching stories.

    • amy jane profile image
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      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Kaira - thank you for the comment. I agree with yoku completely, parents need to take depression seriously and not have an attitude of "what do they have to be depressed about - I give them everything." I have heard that from some moms, and I think they are being incredibly insensitive to their teens needs.

    • profile image

      Kaira 8 years ago

      Nice post. Parenting can be a difficult job, they should understand their children. Like, A depressed teen is ill. It does not mean he is lazy, willful or he is trying to get out from work. Parents cannot fix them on their own. So forcing them will not be the good choice. They need special treatment.

    • amy jane profile image
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      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks so much, Sarsi. Parents and teens really do need to understand each other better. But they both need to be open to communication.

    • amy jane profile image
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      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks so much, Derek. I am always happy to hear that younger people agree with this advice. I think learning to listen to the people you care about will make all of your relationships stronger. Parents need to really listen to their teens, and really hear what they are saying! I know some teens would rather just be left alone, so it can be difficult. It is worth the effort in the long run. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      derekcaulfield 9 years ago

      we'll all I gotta say is great hub. As a younger person reading this and growing up, listening important even though when you are growing up often you don't know this and when parents try this you think it's silly and pointless. But it is important. :-)

    • amy jane profile image
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      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks so much, ripplemaker and julie. :) Encouragement and a positive attitude from a young age is really key to building a strong relationship as well as building healthy self esteem in your child. It is certainly a challenge to remember in the tough times, and even when younger tween aged children rebel in their own ways. Thank you both for reading and commenting. :)

    • Julie A. Johnson profile image

      Julie A. Johnson 9 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Amy Jane,

      Undoubtedly, the teen years are tough for both the teen and the parent. The point you make about role modeling is key, and that starts long before children become teens. I thkink you offer some very good advice, it's just hard to remember all of this as the teenager starts to rebell, and I think they all do, to some extent anyway.

      Julie

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Yes Amy Jane, indeed all the kids do is watch the people around them and absorbing things like sponges. Scary when you think about it! I also like what you wrote about being a consistent source of encouragement. This truly helps teens open up to their mothers and keep them talking instead of hiding. Great hub!

    • amy jane profile image
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      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you, Doghouse for linking to this! I think this one got lost in the rush of the Hublove contest. :)

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California

      Amy,

      I don't know how I could have missed this one... I am going to link it to my Hub on parenting tips for teens....

    • amy jane profile image
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      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi Vince, thanks so much for reading. I am glad to hear that a teen finds this advice fair and valuable. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. :)

    • profile image

      VinceSamios 9 years ago from Australia

      As a teen - its good to see the advice you are giving parents, thanks!

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi Marlo, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I agree, so many parents are too busy and so many kids are overcommited as well. Finding the time to listen is essential.

    • amy jane profile image
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      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Hey Steph, thanks so much! I have been preparing for the teen years since my first was born. With 3 girls it is a scarry situation. I know you can relate :)

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 9 years ago from United States

      Great hub - especially your 'listening' point. Unfortunately, so many parents are so busy, stressed, and have too many activities going on, they tend to find less time to listen to their teens. As a result, teens can feel isolated.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Amy Jane, I can tell you will have success when your kids become teenagers! (yikes, right?) As always, a great hub.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks so much John, I will definitely check it out and add it to my links above :)

    • John Chancellor profile image

      John Chancellor 9 years ago from Tennessee

      Another great resource for positive material on raising children is www.loveandlogic.com. They really have some great stuff.