We all know adolescence is a tough for children, and for parents. With hormones raging, bodily changes, emotional instability, and peer pressure, raising a teen can be an extremely difficult challenge. Here are some tips and examples to help you help your teen through this tumultuous time.
• Actively listen to what your teen is telling you, and give them feedback that lets them know you’re listening. (e.g. It sounds like you had a very frustrating day.)
• Praise good behavior with privileges or time with you, rather than material objects. (e.g. Opt for an extra night out with friends or a movie with you, rather than a new outfit.)
• Spend time together with just you and your teen, as well as time with your entire family. (e.g. On the way to a baseball tournament, ask your teen to tell you about his week at school; plan a family night of bowling.)
• Take time to talk to your teen about values. (e.g. After watching the news and hearing about an underage drinking party where someone got hurt, you could discuss with your child why you have particular rules, and that these rules are designed to keep the child safe.)
• Communicate with your teen using “I statements.” (e.g. I get frustrated when you don’t empty the dishwasher because then everyone piles their dishes in the sink. Please go empty the dishwasher right now.)
• Before rules and consequences are put into place, discuss the specifics of the rule and the reasons behind the rule with your teen. (e.g. Now that you can drive, I need to set a curfew of 9:00pm for you. I am setting this curfew because I don’t want you in any bad or harmful situations that can occur late at night.)
• When problems arise, brainstorm solutions with your child, decide on a course of action, and follow up with a reminder if necessary.
• When heated conflict arises between you and your teen, step away from the situation, and deal with the issue when you have cooled down. (e.g. I am very upset with your behavior right now. We will talk about this after I’ve had time to cool down.)
• If you have questions or concerns that come along, seek out information. Talk to other parents or professionals, read books about parenting teens, or surf the internet for typical and atypical teen behavior.
Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.