Parenting a Teen

Reviewed Mar 22, 2019

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Summary

  • Give your teen more freedom, but with rules.
  • Model respectful behavior.
  • Communicate on your teen’s terms.

If you’re bracing for conflict as your child approaches the teenage years, you can relax. Adolescents do test boundaries, but adjusting your parenting style to meet your teenager halfway can help to keep the peace in your family. It will also help prepare your child for the day he is on his own.

Life with a teenager may still be rocky at times as they assert their independence, but it’s a necessary part of growing up and letting go.

Shift gears

When your child hits early adolescence—usually around age 11 or 12—she will begin the process of separating from you. This can be painful for parents, who may feel rejected. But it’s a necessary stage in growing up. Let your child take safe risks and test limits within reason. This will give her practice making good decisions while you’re not there.

  • Give your teen more freedom, but with rules attached. For example, you might let your 13-year-old ride his bicycle across town to the basketball court with the understanding that he will text you when he arrives.
  • Set natural consequences for breaking rules. If your teenager forgets to text you, the consequence would be that he may no longer ride his bicycle to the basketball court.
  • Teach your teen life skills, such as doing her own laundry or cooking dinner. This will help her to become more independent and responsible.
  • Pick your battles. Your child will rebel if you’re too strict. Save your objections for requests that are foolhardy or unsafe. For example, there’s no harm in letting your 14-year-old dye his hair purple. But if he asks to travel out of state with older friends and no chaperone to a music festival, that’s the time to say no.

Be a role model

Your teenager may seem like she pays closer attention to her friends than to you. But you still matter very much. Your teen learns from you, too, so act the way you expect her to behave.

  • Apologize when you’re wrong. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do afterward that matters. If you admit your mistakes and show your teen that you learn from your errors, then he will do the same.
  • Treat others with respect. Even when they make you angry.
  • Don’t engage in fights. Teenagers often have a hard time controlling their emotions because of changes happening in their brains. If your teen snaps at you or starts an argument, step back. Give her a chance to calm down and think things through before trying to talk.

Keep the lines of communication open

Your teen may give you one-word answers some days, but that doesn’t mean all communication has to stop. There are other ways to know what’s happening with your child.

  • Use your teen’s method of communicating. Don’t give up talking, but add text and other social media applications if you haven’t already. Share funny videos, send your teen photos, exchange songs. These are all ways to keep your connection strong.
  • Look for openings for conversations. Your teen might signal that there’s something on her mind by plopping herself down in a chair next to you. Driving together in the car is often a good time to talk without the discomfort of sitting face-to-face. 
  • Know your child’s friends and their parents. Sharing information with other parents is a good way to stay on top of what the kids are doing.
By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: "Independence, One Step at a Time" by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD. American Academy of Pediatrics, www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/Independence-One-Step-at-a-Time.aspx

Summary

  • Give your teen more freedom, but with rules.
  • Model respectful behavior.
  • Communicate on your teen’s terms.

If you’re bracing for conflict as your child approaches the teenage years, you can relax. Adolescents do test boundaries, but adjusting your parenting style to meet your teenager halfway can help to keep the peace in your family. It will also help prepare your child for the day he is on his own.

Life with a teenager may still be rocky at times as they assert their independence, but it’s a necessary part of growing up and letting go.

Shift gears

When your child hits early adolescence—usually around age 11 or 12—she will begin the process of separating from you. This can be painful for parents, who may feel rejected. But it’s a necessary stage in growing up. Let your child take safe risks and test limits within reason. This will give her practice making good decisions while you’re not there.

  • Give your teen more freedom, but with rules attached. For example, you might let your 13-year-old ride his bicycle across town to the basketball court with the understanding that he will text you when he arrives.
  • Set natural consequences for breaking rules. If your teenager forgets to text you, the consequence would be that he may no longer ride his bicycle to the basketball court.
  • Teach your teen life skills, such as doing her own laundry or cooking dinner. This will help her to become more independent and responsible.
  • Pick your battles. Your child will rebel if you’re too strict. Save your objections for requests that are foolhardy or unsafe. For example, there’s no harm in letting your 14-year-old dye his hair purple. But if he asks to travel out of state with older friends and no chaperone to a music festival, that’s the time to say no.

Be a role model

Your teenager may seem like she pays closer attention to her friends than to you. But you still matter very much. Your teen learns from you, too, so act the way you expect her to behave.

  • Apologize when you’re wrong. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do afterward that matters. If you admit your mistakes and show your teen that you learn from your errors, then he will do the same.
  • Treat others with respect. Even when they make you angry.
  • Don’t engage in fights. Teenagers often have a hard time controlling their emotions because of changes happening in their brains. If your teen snaps at you or starts an argument, step back. Give her a chance to calm down and think things through before trying to talk.

Keep the lines of communication open

Your teen may give you one-word answers some days, but that doesn’t mean all communication has to stop. There are other ways to know what’s happening with your child.

  • Use your teen’s method of communicating. Don’t give up talking, but add text and other social media applications if you haven’t already. Share funny videos, send your teen photos, exchange songs. These are all ways to keep your connection strong.
  • Look for openings for conversations. Your teen might signal that there’s something on her mind by plopping herself down in a chair next to you. Driving together in the car is often a good time to talk without the discomfort of sitting face-to-face. 
  • Know your child’s friends and their parents. Sharing information with other parents is a good way to stay on top of what the kids are doing.
By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: "Independence, One Step at a Time" by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD. American Academy of Pediatrics, www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/Independence-One-Step-at-a-Time.aspx

Summary

  • Give your teen more freedom, but with rules.
  • Model respectful behavior.
  • Communicate on your teen’s terms.

If you’re bracing for conflict as your child approaches the teenage years, you can relax. Adolescents do test boundaries, but adjusting your parenting style to meet your teenager halfway can help to keep the peace in your family. It will also help prepare your child for the day he is on his own.

Life with a teenager may still be rocky at times as they assert their independence, but it’s a necessary part of growing up and letting go.

Shift gears

When your child hits early adolescence—usually around age 11 or 12—she will begin the process of separating from you. This can be painful for parents, who may feel rejected. But it’s a necessary stage in growing up. Let your child take safe risks and test limits within reason. This will give her practice making good decisions while you’re not there.

  • Give your teen more freedom, but with rules attached. For example, you might let your 13-year-old ride his bicycle across town to the basketball court with the understanding that he will text you when he arrives.
  • Set natural consequences for breaking rules. If your teenager forgets to text you, the consequence would be that he may no longer ride his bicycle to the basketball court.
  • Teach your teen life skills, such as doing her own laundry or cooking dinner. This will help her to become more independent and responsible.
  • Pick your battles. Your child will rebel if you’re too strict. Save your objections for requests that are foolhardy or unsafe. For example, there’s no harm in letting your 14-year-old dye his hair purple. But if he asks to travel out of state with older friends and no chaperone to a music festival, that’s the time to say no.

Be a role model

Your teenager may seem like she pays closer attention to her friends than to you. But you still matter very much. Your teen learns from you, too, so act the way you expect her to behave.

  • Apologize when you’re wrong. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do afterward that matters. If you admit your mistakes and show your teen that you learn from your errors, then he will do the same.
  • Treat others with respect. Even when they make you angry.
  • Don’t engage in fights. Teenagers often have a hard time controlling their emotions because of changes happening in their brains. If your teen snaps at you or starts an argument, step back. Give her a chance to calm down and think things through before trying to talk.

Keep the lines of communication open

Your teen may give you one-word answers some days, but that doesn’t mean all communication has to stop. There are other ways to know what’s happening with your child.

  • Use your teen’s method of communicating. Don’t give up talking, but add text and other social media applications if you haven’t already. Share funny videos, send your teen photos, exchange songs. These are all ways to keep your connection strong.
  • Look for openings for conversations. Your teen might signal that there’s something on her mind by plopping herself down in a chair next to you. Driving together in the car is often a good time to talk without the discomfort of sitting face-to-face. 
  • Know your child’s friends and their parents. Sharing information with other parents is a good way to stay on top of what the kids are doing.
By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: "Independence, One Step at a Time" by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD. American Academy of Pediatrics, www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/Independence-One-Step-at-a-Time.aspx

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