Thursday

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 say yes! They will, and when they do, ask them…”WHAT DO YOU THINK STOPPED YOU FROM LISTENING TO YOURSELF?” “WHAT GOT IN THE WAY OF YOU LISTENTING AND TRUSTING YOUR THOUGHTS”?

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. 



 

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