Best Tips for Parenting Teenagers - Part 1

Teenagers! Agh, a stage that every parent worries about. It can be a huge challenge to navigate these critical years in our children's lives. Our son just turned 12 this summer, and although he isn't an official "teenager" yet, we can already see changes in the way he thinks and acts. Not bad, just different. He has more need to spread his wings, find himself, and is looking to establish his self esteem. 

The teenage years are a time of huge change for our kids. They are trying to figure out who they are, what they like, and where they are going. Plus, they want to be accepted by not just us, but by their peers also. It is a time of soul searching and identity building. 

We talk a lot about infants and toddlers, but our toddlers are growing up and it is time to talk tips for our teenagers. 

Today, let's start with our first 6 tips for parenting teenagers. 

1. Don’t survive the Adolescent years, THRIVE the Adolescents years.
Stop labeling and get rid of the stereotypes. We shouldn’t expect the worst during these years. Not all teenagers become monsters. Most teenagers are great. Give them a chance. We live in a universe of attraction and what we focus on and put our energy on is what will become our reality. Focus on how great it is that you have children who are learning who they are and developing their identity.

2. Love them from the inside out.
We respond to people, primarily by how THEY feel about us on the inside, not by their behavior. As parents, we can make right choices with our teenagers, but if on the inside, we are irritated, feel they are irresponsible, disappointed in them and their decisions, then that is what they will respond to. That is actually how they will behave. We will bring out in them, the exact behavior we say we don’t like, when we see them as objects that are making our lives miserable. Praise them, compliment them stop nitpicking them.

If they know we love them, above all other things, it allows us to discipline, communicate, be honest and open, and they will accept it.

3. Communicate. It is the Golden Rule of raising teenagers.
We have to keep the lines of communication open. We have too!
There are two times when teenagers want to talk.
  • When we are driving in the car with them. (Don’t have to look at one another, know there is an end so they are more likely to talk.
  • Before they go to bed. (They are tired and willing to let their guard down and chat)
Be available during these times to LISTEN, and instead of telling them things, ask questions so they can discover answers on their own.

ANOTHER GREAT PLACE TO COMMUNICATE is over common activities. Find something that you and your teenager can do together AND DO IT. It takes all the stress out and you will find that while you are sharing something enjoyable, they will want to talk and open up. They feel you understand them because you both share joy for the activity.

4. Understand teenage time zones.
We need to recognize that our teenagers naturally, work in a different time zone than we do. This is not bad, or wrong, just different. We don’t get mad at people in NY because they work in a different time zone! When we ask them to do something, and they say “sure, “in a bit” or “yeah, give me a while.” Instead of being irritated because they are not doing it immediately, or on our time zone, let’s be glad they have said YES. They said YES!!! If we respect that, they will not only actually do what we have asked, but they might even do it sooner. If we know this is how they work, we can ask sooner, explain better. Instead of insisting immediately.

5. Be a Consultant, not a Manager.
Up to this point in our children’s lives, we have been the manager of their lives. We manage all the aspects.  Then, our children hit the teenager years and they fire us as their managers. So parents usually do one of two things.
  • They either abandon their kids…"good luck with everything, hope you make it."
  • They become extra controlling and try to force their kids to do what they want.
Neither are the right way to go. (We are trying to relive our childhood, safeguard them from what we know is out there, etc…)

Being a consultant is more about influence and less about control. Consultants share their expertise and knowledge to help attain goals and solve problems.

One way we can do this is to…

ASK, don’t tell.
When we speak to our children we need to ask them for help, ask them for their ideas and opinions, rather than telling them what we believe they should think or do.

“What do you think about that.” “How do you think we could handle that.” Etc…

This can be really hard because we have been there, we know what the future holds if certain decisions are made, or not made, but it is their time to learn for themselves. That is our job, to help them do that.
6. Don’t get lost in the consequences
When we are parenting teenagers, it can be very easy for us to get caught up in the consequences when our children make mistakes. Now, there does need to be consequences. Absolutely, BUT…. A few things to consider.

Consequences should fit the crime and they should have kids DO SOMETHING, opposed to taking something away. Mow the lawn, opposed to loosing their phone.

BUT it is the follow up that we as parents usually forget. AFTER the consequence, sit down with your child and ask them “was there any part of you that thought you should call home when you were going to be late for curfew”? OR, did the thought ever cross your mind that maybe you should have left earlier so you were home on time”?


They will come up with some sort of answer. When they do, go on to explain that “you know what is right, Listen to yourself. You have all you need to make right and good decisions. “

Then, move on, don’t’ lecture. And don’t get lost in the consequence. It is over and done.

Do the teenage years worry you?
What worries you the most?
What tips can you add for parenting teenagers?

Don't miss Part 2 of our Parenting Teenagers Series. By the time we are done, you will have all you need to tackle the stage in your child life. 



TEEN WEEK: Raising Teens- "Age of Opportunity"

It's TEEN WEEK here on Family Volley! All week we will be talking about those tough adolescent years, with tips and tricks to not only surviving, but THRIVING! You don't want to miss it!

Just when we think the "two's" are terrible, a parent will argue that it doesn't hold a candle to a 15 year old in the middle of puberty. And with adolescence lasting longer than ever before, it's time to give this stage of life more attention.

To kick off Teen Week I want to introduce you to the best book I have read on the subject. If you have a teen, know a teen, will have a teen one day, or work with teens, you need to read "Age of Opportunity" by Laurence Steinberg.

The book, filled with years of research and findings, clearly explains how the adolescent brain works, which is a necessary place to start if we want to know how to parent them during those years. Steinberg explains that most of our understanding about adolescents are incorrect and gives us the truth about this time in life. By the time you are done, you will have a wonderful understanding of teenagers, how they work, why they do the things they do, and what you need to do to help them become successful adults. Not to mention what we should do in the heat of raising them when we don't think we can survive one more day.

There are solid reasons to be concerned about our adolescents.

  • American adolescents continue to underperform teens from many industrialized countries that spend a lot less on schooling. 
  • The US once boasted one of the the world's highest college graduation rates. It now doesn't even make the top 10.
  • One in 5 American high-school seniors abuses alcohol at least twice a month. 
  • Nearly one third of young women in the US will get pregnant at least once by age twenty. The US leads the industrialized world in teen pregnancies and STD's and ranks near the top in adolescent abortions.
  • In 2011, nearly one-third of the women who gave birth had never been married.
  • Twenty percent of all high-school-aged boys in American take prescription medication for ADHD
  • Adolescent obesity is three times more common now than it was in the 1970's.
The findings go on and on. All leading to the understanding that American teenagers are among the world's most miserable. (Steinberg, 2014)

You will not only find solid research, but solutions.

As we head into Teen Week, here are a few understandings that you need to start with. Keep these as your foundation. The rest of the week will build on, and add to them. By the time we are done, you will have a game plan to use for your teenager.

First, adolescents is just as important as the early years in terms of the potential impact of experiences on the brain. A teenagers brain is plastic (Steinberg, 2014). It can be altered by experience. What happens during these crucial years will affect the rest of their lives.

Second, children are maturing earlier than ever before. As parents, we have to be prepared before they are.

Third, we want to be authoritative parents. Demonstrating a good mix of warmth, firmness, and support.

Forth, we can't love our children too much. There is no harm in telling them we love them EVERY day, in showing affection to them every day, in praising them every day.

Those four truths will be the foundation for all we do here during Teen Week. Get ready to take some notes so you can strengthen the relationship with your adolescent.

If you want to get your hands on the "Age of Opportunity" (and you do), you can find it on Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes and Noble.

What is the hardest part about raising a teenager?


Improving Family Communication-Does Your Family Like the Way You Communicate? Take a Test.

When it comes to learning to communicate, family is the school room. The way we communicate with our children and our spouses, teaches our children how to communicate. If we sulk and pout, raise our voices, ignore and hold grudges, we are teaching our children that that is the way to do things. Which sets them up for trouble as they get older. They will take those same bad habits into their future relationships.

But...if we work to model healthy communication, listen more than we talk, rarely use sarcasm and insults, say what we mean, practice empathy, and ask questions when we have them, we send our children out with valuable tools to use in every area of their lives.

The funny thing is, how we see ourselves communicating, is not always the same way our family sees things. Time to take a step back, be honest with ourselves and with one another, and take a little communication inventory, to see how well things are going in our homes.

Take a few minutes to answer the following questions. Then, cover up your answers and have your family answer the same questions about you. (You can print the inventory right from this post.) Obviously you want to answer true to all of them, and you want your family to do the same. But chances are, that won't happen. Be open to the constructive criticism and evaluate what each person in the family can do better.

You will love what an activity like this can do for your family. Let me know how it goes!


Back To School Time Capsule (With Printable)

Here from Studio 5, looking for the Printable? Just scroll down and you will run right into it!

Today is our children's first day of the new school year. We have had a great summer, although way to short, and the kids are ready for school to start. I am glad they are so excited. 

This is a big year for the kids, but also for us as parents. Our son will be starting 7th grade. Yikes! Junior High School? Were those years really good for anyone? On top of that, he will be attending junior high at the local high school. Not part time, but full time, just like if he was in 10th grade. I am nervous for what he will be exposed to. High school is a very big place for a barely twelve year old. Fingers crossed we have done our part to prepare him.Our 9 year old daughter is starting 4th grade. She is in a French emersion program and spends half the day speaking English and the other half of the day speaking French. No English allowed. She has loved it up to this point and am guessing, that although I took a lot of French in high school, she has the potential to pass me up this year. 

Our 6 year old is going to be in 1st grade. That means she is starting the French program also and will be in school all day. I don't know what I am going to do without her around during the day.

I am going to miss them. A lot. 

With all the changes, and the fact that I feel like I can't keep up with how fast our kids are growing up, we decided a few years ago to start documenting all the fun changes that take place each school year. The Back to School Time Capsules will help you keep track of your children's growth, without taking a lot of time or resources. And your kids will love it. Don't worry if school has already started. There is plenty of time and your kids will still be very willing.

The idea is to document the small things about your child that will change over the next school year. Things like height, weight, likes and dislikes, even handwriting. 

You don't need much.

A container
Rope or string or ribbon

First...decide what you want each child to keep their capsule in. Mason jar, #10 Can, She Box, anything will work. 

Have your child stand up against a wall and lightly mark how tall they are. THEN...take your rope/string/ribbon and stretch it the length of your measurement. Cut the string to the right height length, and put it in your time capsule. They will love getting it out at the end of the school year and seeing how tall they have grown. 

Write down how much your child weights. If you don't know, don't worry, skip this one.

On a piece of paper, have your child write down the following... 
favorite color
favorite meal
favorite fruit
favorite vegetable
favorite activity
least favorite food
favorite TV show
favorite movie
favorite book
favorite subject in school
favorite friend
favorite snack
favorite shirt/pants/shoes
favorite toy

You get the point. Add your own to the list. 

Here is a Printable you can use for your own Back To School Time Capsules. Simply click on the picture, download, and print out one copy for each of your kids. 

Have your child write down 3 goals they have for this school year. At the end of the year you can see if they accomplished those goals. 

Have your child write their name. For even more fun. Have them write it on a piece of paper/chalkboard/whiteboard and then take of picture of them holding the piece of paper up. This way you will have a picture of them and see what their writing was like. It will be fun to see how their writing has changed at the end of the school year.

Trace your children's hands. Include the tracing in the capsule. Your kids will love to see how their hands have grown. We like to include feet also. 

If you took a picture of your child holding up their name, then you can use that as your picture. If not, you probably took a picture the first day of school. Add a picture to the time capsule and you are set. If you are not really great at getting pictures from your camera/phone to the print shop, you can always wait until the school pictures come home and add one of those to the time capsule. 

Once you have everything filled out and gathered, put it in your container of choice and seal it up. Bury them in the backyard, put them on a high shelf, under the bed, anywhere. Just tuck them away until the end of school, or the beginning of the next school year. 

It will be so fun to have a special BACK TO SCHOOL PARTY next year when we open them up and see how the kids have grown and changed. And then start the tradition all over again for the new school year. 

We have decided that we are going to do this every year until they graduate from high school. Each new school year, as we go through last years contents to see the kids growth and development, I take the contents of the capsules and put them in a regular old legal size envelope. I hole punch the envelopes and put them into a three ring binder for storage. Each child has their own binder, and that is all we have to store until they leave for college or get married and want to take their time capsules with them. What a great way to quickly and simply document all the growth and development that is happening. 

Simple, fun, and memorable. It doesn't get better than that. 

How do you keep your memories?
How do you ring in the new school year?
Anyone have kids in an emersion program? What language are they learning?


3-Night Hotel GIVEAWAY in California!!!

What a fun week! I hope you had an opportunity to get to know the creative, awesome, talented and beautiful contributors in the Contributor Q&A Blog Hop! I know I did. I love getting to know people and learning more about what they love to do, what they love to eat, and how they like to fill their time. If you hopped around, I hope you were able to make new friends, find new ideas, and gather new recipes. Everyone loves new recipes! How many times, in your stressful life, have you dreamed about laying out on the beach with a great book? 'Or so she says...' to the rescue! So, to further expand on our favorites, all of the OSSS contributors got together to give away their favorite books, perfect for summer reading! The coolest part is, one person will win EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. That's right, the whole bundle! That's 15 books, yo. Oh, but it gets better. Get Away Today, the greatest travel agency ever and 'Or so she says...' contributor, offered another winner a 3-night hotel stay in Anaheim or San Diego (winner’s choice) with their choice of two adult theme park tickets... PLUS, they get the 15 book bundle too! Favorite Books Giveaway

Lets go over those prizes again:

Grand Prize Winner: 15 'Contributors' Favorite Books' Bundle PLUS a 3-night hotel stay in Anaheim or San Diego (winner’s choice) with their choice of two adult theme park tickets! Vacation courtesy of Get Away Today. Runner Up: 15 'Contributors' Favorite Books' Bundle (details of books below.) win, win, win3Ready to enter? So, all we ask is for you to follow 'Or so she says...' and the contributors on Pinterest. We are all pin-maniacs and know you'll love the great ideas we send your way. After you enter, be sure to scroll down and check out all the books included in the giveaway. It's so fun to see what each contributor picked as her favorite book!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Want to know which books are included in the bundle?? What are the contributors' favorites?? Check 'em out! . 1. Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley ~ "This book was not what I surpassed what I was hoping for. Mystery, romance and intrigue. Great characters and an interesting plot. It was a great read and perfect for summer reading!" Jana of Double the Deliciousness 2. Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin - "This book is a favorite because it teaches how to not only how photograph food, but how to do it beautifully!" Gina of Kleinworth and Co. 3. These is My Words by Nancy Turner "While I'm a country/ farm girl at heart, I can't even begin to imagine what the early settlers went through! I love how they worked the land, built their own homes, and made everything from scratch! And I'm always up for a good love story! Jack and Sarah's won't disappoint!" Brooke of Blissful Roots 4. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino - "Aw, I love this book! It's a super unique book, in that it's a parable, teaching you how to be a better person, but also an activity book. Each chapter, you read over and over, until you master the character trait. It's a great story with lots of great thoughts. I think I highlighted half the book!" Mariel of 'Or so she says...' 5. Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray "Eat Cake will make it's way into your list of favorite books, it's a quick and enjoyable read. I love this book for more reasons than the fact that the main character shares my name! It'll have you laughing and crying- all at the same time! If you're like me and have a unexplainable urge to bake... you'll totally connect with Eat Cake!" Ruthie of Cooking with Ruthie 6. Wonder by RJ Palacio - "My 9-year-old daughter recommended Wonder to me and I enjoyed it just as much as she did. This is a compelling novel that is fun and easy enough for summer, but also intelligent and thought-provoking. Share it with your family when you are finished!" Allison of Tips for Family Trips 7. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - "I love this book because it is getting me to think deeper about what I do to bring happiness upon myself. I am a happy person, but am loving the new outlook and am loving making new goals to make myself really live a happy life." Kiki of Kiki and Company 8. Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar - "It's easy to think that once a certain thing happens, I'll be happy. Well, this book provides little life secrets to be happier each and every day. It is applicable for every life stage. It has changed my way of thinking about happiness." Melissa of So Festive! 9. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson - "Sometimes a mom just needs a good, quick, easy summer read to distract her from doing more laundry or to keep her busy during swim lessons. If you love a good Jane Austen romance, you will love this book! Set in Jane Austen's English countryside of 1820, this romance will keep you quickly turning the pages as you watch Kate's struggle to learn to follow her heart!" Veronica of Lolly Lu Designs 10. Leadership and Self- Deception - "Do you want to know the secret to having a happy and successful family and marriage? Want to know how to have successful relationships with anyone you come in contact with? Leadership and Self-deception holds the key to mending, strengthening and flourishing in all of your relationships. This book is a life changer- Promise!" Heather of Family Volley 11. Surprise Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke - "It's a beautiful book of cakes and it's full of cake decorating tips for the everyday bake. Amazing cakes for every special occasion, all with a little surprise on the inside." Zainab of Blahnik Baker 12. The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle - "It taught me how to parent my very determined toddler (at the time) based on her personality type." Amy of The Connection We Share 13. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaleo Hosseini - "I read this as part of a book club and it has stuck with me ever since. It is a beautifully written, emotionally gripping story of two Afghan women's suffering, strength, and resilience. What I love most about it is the way it celebrates the strength of the human spirit - a beautiful thing!" Cathy of Lemon Tree Dwelling 14. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella - "A light, charming book by the author of the popular Shopaholic series. This clever romantic comedy makes for a fun and easy summer read, by the pool or on the beach!" Samantha of Five Heart Home 15. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale - "I loved this simple story that has some fun little twists. My favorite part is that my daughter loved this book as much as I did. I love being able to enjoy the same books as my daughter. This is one that was enjoyable for us both!" Holly of Bits of Everything Longest post of your life? Maybe! But, it's worth it. Good luck to you!

Fine print: Must be U.S. resident and 18 years or older to enter. Vacation package must be booked at least 60 days in advance and is subject to availability and some blackout dates. This post contains affiliate links.

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