Adolescence can be a trying time for parents and kids. The transition from child to young adult leaves many parents questioning how to navigate this new territory. There are many resources available to parents when it comes to babies and early childhood development, the information on raising teenagers is fewer and farther between. How can you prepare yourself for parenting a teenager? Start with these four parenting adolescent tips.
Don’t Take It Personally
During adolescence, kids are trying to establish their own independent identities. That often means they distance themselves from parents and spend more time alone or with their peers. That change can often leave parents feeling like their child no longer needs them or wants to spend time with them.
Your child’s need for independence is natural and in no way indicative that they no longer need your support, in fact, as they grow into young adults, kids need parental support and guidance more than ever.
Keep Them Talking
Most experts agree that one of the most beneficial things parents can give their adolescent children is open and loving communication. According to the American Academy of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry, “The ability to talk openly about problems is one of the most important aspects of the parent and child relationship.” Spending unrushed, quality time with your teen with no agenda will allow them to talk to you openly about what’s going on in their lives.
No matter what they might say, teenagers, like all kids, want boundaries. It’s important to establish clear and concise rules so your teen knows what’s expected of them and what consequences they’ll face if those expectations are not met.
It’s also important to prioritize your rules. You may have hard stances on things that affect their safety like drug use or drinking, but you may be willing to ignore the state of their room. Focus on the boundaries that are most important to your family and explain to your child why you feel so strongly about the parameters you’ve set.
You want your child to know that you love them unconditionally, even if you don’t always approve of their decisions or their behavior. The goal of parenting teens is to help them grow into loving, caring, responsible adults. Celebrating your teen’s daily successes and big accomplishments alike will help them build confidence as they mature into adulthood. Conversely, counseling them through their setbacks or challenges in a loving way will allow them to grow from the adversities that they face.
Parenting teens can be difficult for many reasons. The constant physical and emotional changes that adolescents experience can make it seem like you have a new child every day. Keeping the lines of communication open and honest, setting boundaries and constantly letting them know that they are loved can help parents navigate the treacherous teenage years.