Parenting is not all fun and games. While it can be lots of fun and a source of real joy for parents, it also comes with difficulties and pains. Talk to any parent and they will be quick to tell you that it doesn’t get any easier. If you think taking care of a newborn and tending to a toddler’s needs is tough, just wait until your precious little one starts to go through the teenage years.
Parenting teens is a tough and thankless job. Well, that goes for parenting in general but dealing with teenagers whose bodies are going through plenty of changes and who start developing certain attitudes is a whole new ballgame.
We understand that parenting together with a spouse is already difficult. We can’t imagine having to deal with teenage issues as a single working parent.
We have talked to some parenting experts and experienced parents about dealing with teenagers in general and compiled a list of very practical tips from them.
Tip #1: Understand that you are first a parent.
One of the parenting trends that have sprung up in recent years is the “cool buddy parent” that the younger generations of parents have started taking. While this may seem good at promoting openness between the child and the adult, the danger here is the child might have a hard time seeing you as a parent if he or she has gotten so used to treating you like a friend.
Keep in mind that you are a parent first and foremost. Your role in your child’s life is irreplaceable. You need to know the line between parenting and friendship and that should be clear with your child, too.
Tip #2: Give them positive attention.
Teenagers long for attention from their parents. According to statistics, a lot of juvenile delinquency cases stem from teens not getting enough love and attention at home. They turn to misbehavior and mischief just to get their parents to notice them.
Spare yourself and your child any misery by intentionally making time for them and giving them the positive attention and love they desire.
Tip #3: Make your expectations reasonable and appropriate.
Your kids are growing into young adults at this stage. It’s about time that you entrust them with greater responsibilities. But it’s also worth noting that you should set your expectations from them according to their age and capabilities. While we’re not supposed to look down on them just because of their youth, neither should we overwhelm them with things that even older adults are struggling with.
Challenge them enough to make them grow and realize their potential. Once they see their progress, they start to feel better about themselves and carry themselves more confidently.
Tip #4: Never withhold discipline from them.
Now just because the kids are starting to grow into young men and ladies, it doesn’t mean that the disciplining will stop. Discipline should never stop and should never be withheld from them. Otherwise, you will be doing your teens a disservice.
The discipline at this stage will be a lot different compared to when they were toddlers or little kids.
Tip #5: Be consistent.
Do not confuse discipline with punishment. Discipline is supposed to teach kids valuable life lessons but it should also hurt them in some way. Talk to them about acceptable behavior and the consequences of doing otherwise.
When you set consequences, take note of the following:
- Avoid setting ultimatums
- Clearly define what’s involved
- Let them know the reason behind the decision
- Hear them out first
- Be reasonable and flexible
Remember that when you’re disciplining your teen, you’re dealing with the behavior and the root cause. Make it clear that you love them but don’t like what they did.
Tip #6: Seek counsel when necessary.
Never be afraid to ask for help. You may think that your situation is unique and that no one understands it but you’ll be surprised to find that you’re just one in many.
The counsel and support of knowledgeable people will come in really handy especially if you’re dealing with certain special issues like alcohol and substance abuse or if you’re trying to figure out the best binge eating disorder recovery plan.
Anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed or at a loss, don’t hesitate to reach out to people you believe can help you.
Adolescence can be quite a confusing time for both kids and parents alike. Parents should just take it one step at a time and extend understanding but also not withhold discipline. Knowing how to deal with the changes that teenage years bring can help parents manage better relationships with their children. It will not always be easy but nothing worth fighting for is never easy.