The period of teenhood is a shaky time for parents and their teens alike, but raising teenagers is not all that bad.
My kids are yet to reach their teenage years, but I wanted to be extra prepared for what others claimed was the worst period of parenthood – though the more I look into it, the harder it is for me to believe that that is the case.
So let me help you and your teenagers conquer their teen years, standing side by side with each other.
What is teenhood and when does it begin?
Most parents believe this period starts the moment their kids hit their teenage years. While this is mostly true, the usual indicator is when they enter puberty and their hormones start going wild.
It is also the first sign that your young one is growing up – a terrifying fact for most parents because they start to lose that sense of control they have had over the situation for the longest time, when it should really be the opposite.
Parents of teens should be proud that their kid has started their journey toward becoming an independent young adult.
What does it entail?
Well, I am certain you know most of the answer because you were teenagers once too (despite your kid having a hard time believing it), but these are more modern times and there are some new things that you should keep an eye on as well:
Their body starts changing – The staple video we have all had to sit through in school at one point or another, or the dreaded “talk” we had to do with our parents once puberty had hit. This is an inevitable process that changes kids both mentally and physically as they start stepping out of the shoes of a child and start sizing up for adult life.
It is a period of transition where they start becoming more self-conscious and taking note of their appearance and the opinions of others, not just you.
They seek the guidance of others besides just you – while this might be an alarming fact to some because they begin losing control over their children’s actions, remember that they are not a year old anymore.
They are capable of doing things themselves and are trying their best to do so by broadening their horizons through second opinions, testing what you had taught them, and questioning everything they know.
Technology is taking over – Much like you are reading this article now, they too are browsing through something that interests them on their cell phones, tablets or PCs.
We live in the age of information and avoiding such things is impossible.
Tech is part of society and is the accepted norm these days, bringing a vast number of benefits and detriments on the table that you should be aware of.
They are beginning to break off on their own – despite still relying on you for a lot of things (even though they will rarely admit it), the teenage brain has an innate need for independence that it does not know how to fully achieve yet, especially when it’s overwhelmed with an overabundance of new things it keeps discovering on a daily basis.
How to deal with parenting teenagers?
This process of raising teenagers becomes a lot easier if you have done some good parenting before they got to this age, but even if that was not the case, it is not the end of the world.
Before you go off buying a mountain of parenting books from Amazon or any local or online bookstores, realize that while they may explain some emotional processes that go on during teenhood, they are no Holy Bible of teen parenting nor are your kids the same as someone else’s.
They are individuals, or at least they seek to be, and you should respect that and, in the end, you are the one who knows the most about them. After all, you are their parent.
Knowing this, I will still give you a few sound parenting tips that I intend to follow up on when my young ones reach their teen years:
1. Be there for them
This is as important for your kids’ mental health in their childhood as it will be in their teenhood.
Whether they’re in middle school or high school, they will be facing a lot of pressure – from increased schoolwork and their teachers raising the standards, to keeping up with the latest trends and various forms of peer pressure.
They will need some place to vent – a safe haven from all the problems that they face on the outside.
Make sure that safe haven is you. Listen to them and help them find their way back when they are lost.
You want them to know that you love them, their faults, and their successes, and that you will not stop no matter how bad it gets. It will help keep their self-esteem from crumbling.
2. Continue being a good role model
Keep upholding the rules you had set up as a parent during their years as kids.
By that I do not mean control their life, but the moral code and basic principles that you had established within them.
Be someone they can continue looking up to through your words and your actions.
If you don’t, then it might start creating a divide between the two of you and severing the relationship you had with them as they look for other role models, which may or may not be good.
3. Technology is not evil
As I have mentioned before, we live in an age of information and technology is all around us – the good and bad of it.
You’ll notice your kids having more frequent phone calls, spending more time on social media, or playing video games. Most of the time anyway.
Now, some parents might think these are the warning signs of their teenage child being antisocial or that they are alienating themselves from the outside world.
This could not be further from the truth.
Just because it was not something you used to do back when you were a teenager, doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing.
Heck, you have probably done worse things.
Yes, your child might not be reading a physical book, but how do you know they’re not reading interesting articles online, new findings in things they are interested in?
The internet is an encyclopedia of information and they are just using it to the best of their ability.
This goes for them playing games too. You’d be surprised how much better kids absorb the worlds of fiction when they’re represented in front of them visually.
It’s like watching a movie and influencing what happens within it. An interactive story.
Or maybe social media has you worried, but in reality, it’s just a better way of keeping in touch with friends and what they’re doing, avoiding the lengthy telephone bills of the past and having a quicker and more readily available option.
4. Feed them
Yes, I know this sounds like an odd tip, but not everything about handling teenagers is about the mental; the body needs attention too.
They are all growing teenage girls and boys and making sure that those equally growing appetites are met is just as important.
This goes doubly for if they have company over.
Your teen’s friends are teens too and if you’re a good cook (or keep a stock of quality leisure foods), they are sure to come by more often.
Doing this lets you know what kind of company your teens/tweens keep and will no doubt boost their popularity ever so slightly, providing a positive impact on your teen’s behavior and self-confidence.
5. Give them their own space
They still live under your roof, I know, and so do you too. But trust me, you can’t just go barging into their rooms whenever you want to anymore.
They may be doing something they don’t want you to see or simply need some alone time to process things or just relax.
Learn to read the situation if that’s the case, or at the very least, learn to knock and ask for permission before entering.
The same goes for when you’re driving them to school or to a friends’ house. Don’t drive them straight to the door; that’s embarrassing if anything.
Leave them like a block or two back. They will appreciate it.
They want to learn to be independent and this is one way of helping them transition into such.
6. Reinforce and adapt the rules you set when they were younger
Teenagers often want to experiment or stretch the boundaries of what they’ve known to be the standing rule.
Make sure to sit down with them and explain why they are there to begin with, but be clear and to-the-point when doing so.
They need to know why something is bad.
Even though they might be telling their friends about how strict you might be for enforcing a curfew, they undoubtedly understand it is there to keep them safe from anything that might happen late at night.
7. Know when to relax and when to put your foot down
You can try your best to keep your child safe, but things may and will get out of control at one point. Whether it’s by a little or a lot, that remains to be seen.
Keep an eye on any changes in your child’s behavior or habits and see what might be the cause of it.
Sometimes they themselves will tell you what it is, and sometimes you might have to look for an answer yourself.
As much as I hate saying it and dread it happening for when my kids reach their teenhood, there is a risk of them starting with alcohol, more intimate activities or even drugs, and by that I don’t just mean the heavy stuff, but cough syrups and prescription medicines too.
Peer pressure is a dangerous thing and the pressure of the outside world may prove a bit too much of a burden for your child to bear.
Even if, God forbid, this ends up being the case, be there for them even when you confront them, but enforce a punishment, because they did do something wrong and they need to learn that there are consequences for their actions.
This is why you should set the rules early and enforce them so hopefully an incident like this does not happen.
That said, also know that not everything deserves punishment. Little things like a messy bedroom don’t need a constant reminder to be done, your teenage daughter or son might have a lot on their plate for the day and they just can’t find the time to do so now.
So if you want to avoid a tantrum, pick your battles and set it aside for a few days.
8. Don’t sweat the small stuff
An important lesson every time someone actually realizes it. You don’t have to be there for every little bad thing that happens to your child.
Young people are more than capable of making decisions on their own if you just decide to step back a bit and let them deal with it.
Growing up requires a bit of pain, as they will be facing it in their adult lives.
If they don’t experience it early, they will not be prepared for it later. It is one of the more important life skills that they will learn throughout their teenage life.
That said, you’re still there for guidance, comfort, and explaining to them that you might not succeed at everything you want to do in life – nobody is perfect – but you can improve through hard work and perseverance.
Remember that raising teenagers is hard but if you’re patient enough, everything will turn out good.
9. Provide experiences for them
By this I mean doing some interesting activities they might not have gotten to do: rafting, rock climbing, a camping trip, and the like.
Just make sure to note how they react to it and if they actually like it or not. Nobody likes being forced to do something that they are not into themselves.
If anything, sit down with them and brainstorm the next family trip together with them. Find something you all can enjoy before you commit to it.
10. Don’t be a sore loser
While the bolded text might put this one a bit too harshly, by this I mean that you shouldn’t think your kids hate you just because they ignore you or roll their eyes at you.
Though it may not feel like it, they do still want you in their life despite everything.
11. Trust your instincts
This is why I initially said to not just blindly follow some random book about parenting teenagers that you found on Amazon.
They serve as a guideline, a framework in which you could expect your child to act in, but ultimately your parental instincts trump all when it comes to knowing your child.
I realize that this has been a lot of stuff to take in and a LOT to read through, but I’m a thorough woman!
Just like with parenting books, only use this article as a guide to help you better understand the way you should be treating your future young adults.
I do, however, hope that I’ve managed to enlighten you on the topic and that this will help maintain the relationship between you and your kids as a positive and healthy one full of mutual trust and appreciation.
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