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Parenting Tips: The Teenage Years

Updated on February 20, 2018
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Anne has a BSc in Applied Psychology. She has been married to the same partner for over 30 years and they have 3 children together.

Teenagers!
Teenagers! | Source

Some do's and don'ts when parenting teenagers

We all think our generation is the best, but your teenagers will be the next ones to rule the world.
It is their job to push at boundaries; it’s our job to give a little
You can't always say "No"
Ask yourself: Is it really worth the fight?
They really can't see it from your point of view
You don't always have to be the parent
They will bang doors...just ignore it
Always remember, they DO love you
Relax and have FUN with them more often

Stress of parenting teenagers

This is as much a lesson on lowering your stress levels when dealing with your adolescent son or daughter as it is on parenting. When you can remain on easy terms with your kids, life is much easier all round for everyone.

Every generation thinks that theirs is the best. They feel that the previous generation made a lot of mistakes and as for the younger generation…well, let’s just say they have a lot to learn.

But there comes a time when we have to let go, and give way to a new way of living, playing and working. Your teenagers are soon to be the newest generation, the ones who will make the new rules and laws, who will decide the new fashions and fads and who will do things their way. And so it goes on.


Teens pushing the boundaries

Of course, while you still have influence and a moral duty to your children, you want to instil your values and beliefs in them.

But remember, you cannot hold back the tide of time, and they will eventually go their own way, with or without your values and beliefs. It is their job to become independent individuals, within their community or society, and to develop their own values and beliefs.

They may very well be the same ones as yours, but first they will question, test and push at the boundaries.

So my first piece of advice to any parent is...

Is it really worth the fight?
Some stuff is important, some less so. You have to decide is it really worth the fight or can I let this one go.
A tidy bedroom would be nice...
A tidy bedroom would be nice... | Source

Choosing your battles with teenagers

Unless your want to be constantly fighting with your teenagers, decide what is really important and what would be really nice, and let the really nice stuff go.

For example, a tidy bedroom would be really nice, but a curfew may be more important.

Help with the chores would be really nice, but getting that school assignment in on time may mean more to you, and ultimately to them.

These are only examples, you decide which issues are the important ones, and really, you will be surprised how much less stressful it is for everyone.

You may also find that when you stop fighting over the ‘really nice’ stuff, the really nice stuff sometimes gets done of its own accord. No, really.

They really can't see it from your point of view
It has been shown that teenagers really find it difficult to emphatise. They are the centre of their world. Right now, the approval of their peers is far more important to them than your approval
 The opinion and approval of their peers is more important right now.
The opinion and approval of their peers is more important right now. | Source

Bargaining


Now you may find the idea of bargaining with your teenagers abhorrent, but hear me out:

Take a look at life from your teenager’s point of view.

They may be feeling pretty sore and resentful because you wouldn’t allow them to do or have something that’s really important to them right now.

Remember, they are the most important person in their life, and they find it really difficult to see things from any other point of view.

(This has actually been scientifically documented. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14738243.)

Then, you come to them looking for their cooperation.

Well, why should they?

“Because I say so”, you might answer, and so we have the beginning of another fight.

Your stress levels hit the roof and you still may not get the cooperation you need. Or if you do, it’s done with more resentment and bad grace.

So, do as you would do with another adult, bargain. ‘If you do this for me, I will do that for you.’ They learn that cooperation is useful and you get your cooperation and lower stress levels. Win/win.


You can't always say "No"
You won't lose control by occasionally giving in. Ask yourself how much it really matters. Are you just saying NO out of habit? Or because it's inconvenient? Are you REALLY being fair? Only you can decide.

Listen to your teenagers

When they ask you for something, or to be permitted to do something, don’t just automatically say “No”.

Listen to what they’re asking for, and why.

Ask questions, (but not in a challenging or negative way)

Discuss it with them, perhaps take time to think about it, and then, if you still feel you have to say no, give your reasons calmly and firmly.

Don’t get dragged into an argument. They may fuss and fret, but they will also know that you gave their request the respect they felt it deserved, even if they may never actually admit it to you.

You don't always have to be the parent
Sometimes just chat with your teenagers about their inerests. Listen and comment but don't lecture or instruct. They are becomming adults and you need to learn to begin to treat them as such. You don't lecture and instruct your partner or friends every time you interact with them (I hope!)

Trusting teenagers

Trust your teenagers sometimes to do the right thing.

Don’t constantly nag, remind or check up on them.

They know what they’re supposed to do and not do, you’ve told them enough times, now let go and trust.

And try not to show your surprise when they don’t let you down, nor to be too disappointed if they do. But do acknowledge it.



They will bang doors...
...sigh elaborately and roll their eyes heaven ward, but if they are still doing as you ask, ignore this for now. This also comes under Choosing your Battles

What is Secondary Behaviour?

And finally, something which some parents find difficult:

Ignore the secondary behavour:

Secondary behavior is the sighing, pouting, door-slamming etc that often accompanies reluctant compliance.

For example, when asked to go and finish that assignment for school, they may roll their eyes to the sky, mumble some smart remark and slam the door on the way out of the room, but they are doing as you asked, so ignore the dramatics.


Enjoying the teenage years

It is possible to really enjoy your kids’ teenage years.

It’s a time when their personality is developing and changing, when they are finding out their strengths and weaknesses, when life is exciting and sometimes scary for them.

It’s when they forge new friendships and relationships, (the scary part for Mum and Dad) and when they finally emerge into adulthood.

It’s not all drama and fights, at least, it doesn’t have to be.

Sisters-sometimes they fight with us and with each other, but the fun, loving times outweigh the bad times.
Sisters-sometimes they fight with us and with each other, but the fun, loving times outweigh the bad times. | Source
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