- The teen years are characterized by developmental changes—both physical and mental—that can make this time difficult for teens and parents.
- Fortunately, parents can make this time a little easier on everybody by parenting their teens with love and logic, according to mental health professionals.
- Parents should maintain open and honest communication with their child and also educate their teen about what to expect as far as developmental changes ago.
- It’s also important parents are clear and consistent in terms of rules and structure.
- Additionally, parents should make family dinners a priority: doing so helps to foster strong, healthy relationships.
- Finally, parents need to recognize their teen’s growth and surrender some control, but continue to offer unconditional love and support.
The teenage years are tough—for teens, of course, but also for their parents. The kids they’ve known and raised are suddenly becoming adults who no longer need a hand to hold. This is a tough pill to swallow, but the good news is that your duties as a parent aren’t over yet. (I mean, are they ever really over?) This is a critical stage of development, and although your child is asserting their independence, they still need your love, guidance, and support. Fortunately, several mental health professionals have shared their tips for raising teens with love and logic:
1) Keep an open line of communication.
“The biggest piece of advice I would offer parents is to work hard to keep an open line of communication with their child,” says Maria Inoa, licensed clinical social worker and owner of Full Potential Counseling, LLC. “You can’t help or protect your teen if you don’t know what’s going on, and they aren’t going to open up to you unless they feel comfortable. Encourage them to come to you to talk whether it’s bad or good. Remind them that you will listen first and hear them out and that ultimately, as their parent, you are there to help. The parent may feel angry with what their child tells them, but if they react quickly with anger, that teen is much more likely to not open up to that parent again.”
2) Educate your teen.
It’s also important to educate your teen on developmental changes and how to handle those changes, according to Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist Jessica Schroeder: “One very normal developmental change for teens is an increase in risk-taking behaviors. Sometimes parents see this as a bad thing, but it can be great, as long as teens are aware of what is happening in their brain. When parents can help educate teens about this normal developmental change, teens can recognize unsafe risk-taking behaviors and even watch out for these behaviors.”
3) Be consistent.
Melissa Robinson-Brown, a licensed clinical psychologist, says it’s important to keep rules and your enforcement of the rules consistent, so as to build a solid structure for their success: “Create rules and structure that allow you to be consistent, even when you are tired at the end of a day or worn out by your kid or even frustrated by your partner. Consistency lends itself to predictability, and this allows teens to learn exactly what they need to do to be successful at home and outside of the home.”
4) Eat dinner together!
Another simple, yet effective parenting tip is making time to eat a meal together. “Research has shown when families eat dinner together that not only is the relationship stronger between child and parent, but that the child is also more likely to be successful,” Mike Kawula, co-founder of Dinner Table MBA, explains. “Positivity is turned up and negativity is turned down when families eat dinner together according to a recent Harvard study. We live in a world of on-the-go consistently for both mom and dad and our children. Hitting pause, and taking time to spend with one another more frequently (with devices put down) makes that relationship and bond that much stronger.”
5) Surrender some control.
Aricia Shaffer, a parenting coach, recommends surrendering some control and allowing your teen to make decisions for themselves. “Teens will soon be facing a time where they will have complete responsibility for themselves. To prepare them for that, it can help to give them more control over their own lives,” she explains. “The biggest issue I see with teens and their parents is the power struggle and a trick to get past that is to have a short conversation letting your teen know that they are at an age where you’re now going to be a consultant to them. They have control over their own lives, their own decisions and what’s important to them. There are house rules and everyone in the house needs to respect that, but in terms of making decisions, yes, the teen will be making their own choices.”
6) Offer endless love and support.
And lastly, shower your teen with unconditional love and support. Angel Hoodye, a licensed professional counselor supervisor, says that this is the key to helping them thrive in life: “Encourage your teens to be themselves. Be supportive. During the teenage years, teens try on different roles and ideas. Emphasize their strengths. Let them know when you are proud of them. Accept this new stage of life is difficult at times for you and your teenager. It’s okay to not have it all figured out, your teen doesn’t either.”
Sometimes, teens need a little extra support or assistance—and a mental health professional can provide that for them in child therapy. If you think that your teen could use some professional help, whether it be with understanding symptoms of a mental illness or navigating the stress that comes with high school, reach out to a provider at Thriveworks. You can find a location near you or even book an online session. In either case, you and your child will get the support and assistance that you need.
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