We know that parenting teenagers is tough, because they are usually rebellious, challenging adult values, experimenting with new roles, even taking risk actions resulting in consequences on the rest of their lives. Some parents feel unable to reach their teenagers although they want to help their teenagers. We think that to build a strong positive relationship with your teenagers is a key to guide them through the adolescent years.
Understand your teenager’s needs
Due to teenagers’ brain is still in developmental process, they have special needs especially on mental needs. They need parents’ love, respect, forgiveness, support and guidance.
There are many reasons parents and teens argue. One of the reasons is that adolescents can not “read” facial expression correctly. Teenagers often interpret their parents’ worried expression as anger, and then they respond to what they perceive as anger leading to fighting with their parents.
Communicate with your teenager
Parents and your teenagers should have the freedom to ask questions, and answer those questions honestly, in order to build trust, and communicate effectively.
Parents should listen to your teenagers with an open mind. At this point in their lives, listening is more important than talking to them. Keep discussion open by giving factual information, and plan for a follow-up discussion to take care of loose ends.
Set limits for your teenager
Children need boundaries, like teachers to set homework deadlines to discipline teenagers, parents need to set rules and limits on study, chores, bedtimes, TV/computer time and regular schedules, which all are tools to teach teenagers self-discipline and care for others.
Give your teenager appropriate freedom
Allow your teens to take responsibility when you see them handling it well. If they demonstrate responsible use of money, consider and respect their ideas on how money is to be spent. Give privileges and responsibility with age accordingly.
Parents should help your child understand that freedom and power brings along some responsibilities. If they want to make their own decisions, they will have to take responsibility for them, and to be able to take responsibility needs capability. Encourage them to proactively make their own decisions based upon the facts rather than reacting to their emotions.
Be a mentor for your teenager
Tell your teenagers your own values while allow them test their values and develop their own ones. Make a list of things you like about your teens and tell them. In the meantime, set a consistent example for what you value and give permission for your teenagers to develop their own “philosophy of life.” Guide them, not manage them.
Become best friends with your teenager
On one hand, teenagers are “toddlers with bigger bodies”, you have to be parents for them, and on the other hand they are also “young adults”, you have to be a friend of them as well as.
Respect your teenagers and see them as friends and accept them as young colleagues, in order to understand them well. Praise them when they are doing well, encourage them when they are facing obstacle and be there for them if they need your help. Forgive them and guide them if they made mistakes. Respect their privacy. Spend time with your teens enjoying activities they like.
To learn more parenting skills, please refer to great parenting books.