The transition from child to teenager can be a turbulent time, full of change. As your child begins to change, so does your role in their life. For some parents, the change from being a constant protector and guide to being a supporter on the sidelines can be very difficult. Staying involved in your child’s life while also giving them their independence can be a very fine line – if it is not treaded lightly it can create conflict and damage an already fragile relationship.
The following tips may help to reduce conflict and make the teenage years a less painless experience for both you and your child.
Tips for Parenting Teens
Listening is Key
Some say we were given two ears and only one mouth for a reason – In many situations it is important to listen more than we talk. Listening is key for effective communication with your teen. Not only will it allow them to know that their opinion is valued, but it will also enable you to pick up on things that you might otherwise have missed. Knowing when to stay silent and not butting in with your opinion lets your teen know that you appreciate what they have to say. Body language is another important part of active listening – stop what you’re doing, face your teen and let them know they have your full attention.
‘I’ rather than ‘you’
‘You always stay out too late, you never listen to me!’
‘I worry when I don’t know where you are, I want you to be safe.’
Look at these two statements. Notice a difference? The first appears very demanding and accusatory, placing all the blame on the recipient. A sentence like this is likely to be met with a defensive attitude and unwillingness to compromise. The second is focussed more on the person who is speaking, letting the recipient know how they feel and why they feel this way. Using ‘I’ in statements rather than ‘you’ can diffuse a tense situation, allowing for effective communication without the risk of conflict.
Be available, provide space
For children who are turning into teenagers, this period in their lives can be very confusing. Things are changing and they often struggle with finding their identity and becoming comfortable with themselves. Being available to them and making sure they know you’re there for love and support can help make this transition easier. However in doing so, it is important to also provide space and allow them to have their privacy. Things like knocking on the door and waiting for a reply before entering can let your teen know that their space is respected.
Be a role model
It is tempting to uphold your image of being a perfect parent who does no wrong – however it is incredibly beneficial if you are able to admit your mistakes and know when to apologise. Your teen will respect you for being honest with them, and will likely model your behaviour in the future.
Choose your battles
Some things are simply not worth fighting over. Your teen doesn’t want to clean their room? Fine. Your teen wants to go and meet up with someone they met online? Not okay. The time will come when you have to put your foot down and say no is no. This might produce tears, tantrums, or the silent treatment, but at the end of the day it is your responsibility to make sure your teen is safe and well. Putting things into perspective allows you to take a step back and see that it’s really not worth arguing over clean rooms or whose turn it is to feed the dog.
Be prepared to compromise
It is important to remember that your teen is a young adult, and that they are now growing old enough to be able to make their own decisions. By involving your teen in discussions about household tasks, curfews and rules, you are allowing them to feel like an equal member of the house. Compromising and working together on these kinds of decisions teaches responsibility, whilst also providing boundaries that your teen still requires. You may find that they are more willing to respect the rules if they had a say in their creation.
Something to keep in mind:
‘Because I said so!’ may be asking for a fight! Steer clear of this parental cliché and you’re sure to have a much more responsive teenager.
If you would like further information on Perth counselling services for yourself or your teenager, contact us today.Article Title: Tips for Parents of Teenagers Article By: Vision Counselling and Psychology, Perth Western Australia Web Address: www.visioncounselling.com.au Published: 06/06/14 “Parenting-communicating with teenagers”, (Better Health Channel), Available: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au (Accessed: 2014, May 28)
“Tactics parents use to stay involved with their teens”, (Parenting Teens), Available: https://parentingteens.about.com (Accessed: 2014, May 28) Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club