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Age Appropriate Parenting

Updated on October 22, 2012
Teens need a different kind of parenting than younger children.
Teens need a different kind of parenting than younger children.

Why you need to change your parenting as your child becomes a teen.

The short answer is because they way you disciplined when they were younger will not work anymore. Not changing is one of the biggest mistakes parents make.

It stops working because when the child grows from a child into an adolescent, they have different needs. One of those developing needs is that they want to be treated more like the adult that they are growing into. Even though they do not always behave in a mature way, they need to get experience. When a parent is able to shift treating their child as if they are a child to treating them more like an adult, this helps them to learn how to behave as an adult.

For most parents, this transition is difficult. Not only does the teen sometimes act like they are much younger, but it is hard for parents to look at their teen and not see the toddler who needed them so much. Adolescents still need their parents, and they still need parenting, they just need you in a different way.

Most parents can easily see that you don’t put a fourteen year old in a small plastic “naughty chair” for a “time out”. It is more appropriate to remove a privilege that the teen enjoys. But many parents have not learned to shift how they address their teen from when the teen was a small child. Even if parents no longer use a “naughty chair, they often still speak to their teen as if they were five years old. See the article titled: Enhancing Maturation in Emotionally Delayed Adolescents for directions on how to better address your teen.

Sometimes, parents just “up the price” of the teen child’s misbehavior by putting “grounding” in place. Many parent’s idea of “grounding” is to take all privileges away from the teen for an indefinite period of time. While such measures may work in the short run (and they often do not), in the long run, the teen becomes deeply resentful and reactive to being treated like a prisoner. In fact, “grounding” is just a cloaked version of the “naughty chair”. There are better options that can be used in removing a privilege when this is needed, and the method is much more effective than “blanket grounding”. See the article titled: “Stacked Consequences.”

Small children usually obey parents because they have a desire to please the parent, or they have a respect for established rules and limits. Many children obey because they have felt the consequences of not obeying, and do not want to get those consequences again. But as a child grows into their teen years, they should be maturing into a view of “doing the right thing” because they have “relational contracts” with those people around them. The major reason why a healthy mature teen does not break rules should not be because they fear retribution, but because they do not want to damage the relationship they have with important people in their life.

While younger teens will still need a moderately high level of external consequences like privilege removal, older teens should be needing and getting less of these kinds of consequences as they mature into a more relational contract based self discipline. The people children learn self discipline from is their parents.

If this article rings true to the problems that you have been having in dealing with your teen, you might want to consider making some of the changes you have seen here.

For more helpful information on parenting and caring for children, visit the following website: go to the “articles” page listed in the menu to the left of the main page.


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