Parenting Teenagers: Tips To Help Through The Teen Years
Updated August 27, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
Remember when your child was a baby and you couldn’t wait for them to be older so you could sleep through the night and feel rested? Many parents end up wishing away the younger years only to find that the teen years are harder than they expected. Parenting teenagers does bring with it a new level of challenges and situations, but with the right help, you and your teen will make it through together.
They need to start having more freedom
It’s important to have rules for children to follow as they grow. However, the older they get, the more freedom they need to start making their own decisions. This may be a scary thought to you as the parent. But this actually helps them to build healthy emotional and mental health.
As your child becomes a teenager, you may notice that they start to want more freedom. They’re trying to find out who they are as a person. If you continue to hold them to the same rules and restrictions that they had when they were younger, you may notice that they start to rebel against it. This is why it can be better and safer for you to provide them with a little more freedom as they become older and start to show their responsibility.
Don’t give them complete freedom
While it’s good to give your teenager more freedom, you don’t want to give them total freedom. It’s still good for them to have some rules to follow to help keep them safe. However, you may find it helpful to change the way that you set rules with your teens. For example, it’s helpful to make sure that they not only understand what the rule is but why it matters as well. Explaining why you created the rules that you have can help teens to be more likely to follow them.
It can also help to allow them to establish rules with you. As they get older, you can revisit rules together to discuss which ones are still necessary and which ones may be able to change.
Along with setting rules, it’s also important to be clear about what the consequences are if they break a rule. You want to be consistent instead of just creating punishments in the heat of your anger if they disobey you.
Remember that your teen is watching you
Even though teenagers tend to act like they don’t think their parents know anything, they’re still watching you and learning from you. The way that you interact in relationships or handle your physical and mental health can set an example for them on what to do as well.
If they see that you turn to alcohol at the end of a rough day, they may follow in your footsteps. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids shares that your children are more likely to binge drink if they witness this behavior in you. This is why it’s important to model responsible behavior for them.
This is a great time to be setting an example for your teen in how to take care of themselves properly. Model for them what good self-care looks like. Encourage them to participate in self-care activities as well. Teach them about good eating habits, sleep habits, and the importance of learning how to manage stress.
Remember what it was like to be a teen
It may feel like a long time ago when you were a teenager, but it probably wasn’t really that long ago. When you get frustrated with your teen, think about the things that you did at their age. This can help you to have a little more empathy for your teen and understand where they are coming from.
You may remember challenging your parents as you worked to find your own place in the world. Or, you may remember the pressure that you experienced to succeed in high school or fit in with the crowd.
Regaining the perspective about what these experiences were like can help you when interacting with your child. Chances are good that if your parent was yelling at you then you were probably less likely to listen. Teens today aren’t that different from teens in the past even though they do face some unique challenges.
There are a lot of jokes about how difficult it can be to raise a teenager. And, you may find that there is some truth to the jokes. However, focusing on the challenges is not going to help you or your teen. There may be things that you need to correct them on or things that the two of you argue about, but don’t make that the majority of your conversation.
Take time to praise them for who they are, not what they do. There’s nothing wrong with complimenting them on something that they’ve achieved, but you also want to build them up for the positive characteristics that they have. This can help them to build healthy self-esteem instead of feeling the pressure of needing to perform well in an area in order to receive praise and acceptance.
It’s possible that your teen might blow you off when you praise them, but it could just be that they’re trying to look tough. There’s a good chance that they are taking it to heart and appreciate your comments even if they don’t show it to you.
Talk to your teen about sex
It can be uncomfortable to talk to your teen about sex. And, you may feel like you already had “the talk” with them so your job is done. But it can be helpful to keep the conversation open with them. There can be a lot of pressure on teens to be sexually active. You want to provide them a safe place to turn for support and guidance.
If your teen finds that you are judgmental and pushy when they come to talk to you about sensitive conversations like this, they may stop trying to talk to you. And it’s important to make sure that your teen is getting accurate information. If they aren’t comfortable talking to you, make sure that they have another place they can turn for accurate information that isn’t other teenagers or the internet.
Know how to recognize anxiety and depression
Teens are dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression at an increasing rate. Because of the changes in society and the addition of technology, teens face challenges that you didn’t experience when you were their age. Overall, there is a stronger pressure to succeed and to keep up with things like school, friends, extracurricular activities, and a social media presence. This can wear on your children and can lead to problems with anxiety and depression, both of which can lead to teen suicide.
As a parent, it’s important to learn how to recognize the signs that your teen could be struggling with their mental health. This can include things like:
- Loss of energy
- Change in sleeping habits
- Restlessness or being easily agitated
- Sudden decline in school performance
- Talk of suicide
- Chronic pain, headaches, or digestive issues
If you believe that your teen could be starting to struggle, it’s important to take action to make sure they have the help they need. This could be as simple as helping them learn better techniques to manage their stress levels or taking them to see a doctor or therapist.
Make yourself available to talk
Your life is probably busy as well. But it’s important to make sure you’re available for your teen when they need you. They probably won’t come to you as often as they did when they were younger, but you don’t want to miss the chance if they do want to talk.
During these conversations, make sure you give them your undivided attention. Don’t allow others to interrupt and don’t be distracted by your phone. Then, listen to them before responding. Don’t try to jump right in and tell them what to do. Give them a chance to talk and listen to not only the words they are saying but the meaning behind them as well.
Don’t be afraid to get help from professionals
Raising children of any age can be a challenge. It’s OK if you don’t know exactly what to do at each moment. There’s nothing wrong with turning to the help of a professional such as licensed therapists at BetterHelp when you need help.
A therapist is able to help you deal with the stresses that parenting brings. You may find that you’re struggling with your own stress and anxiety. Or, you may be going through other situations that make it challenging to parent the way that you wish you could. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to address these challenges with a therapist.
You may also find that it’s helpful for your teen to spend some time talking with a therapist as well. Or, you may find the option of family therapy helpful as you all work together to help everyone maintain good mental and emotional health. The teen years can be complicated for everyone involved. But with the right tips and a little advice, you and your child will make it through to the other side.