Often parents feel overwhelmed with regards to parenting teenagers for many different reasons. Having been teenagers ourselves and/or parenting our own teenagers we can all relate. Teenagers are growing adults wanting to find their own way through life. I am sure if you look back to your teen years they may have been difficult, hard or very good. But the most important understanding needed here is your past is not the life of your teenagers.
Your child is now growing up – give them things to do around the house as this will help them to develop responsibility and a sense of contribution (hopefully you would have already been doing this since they were younger and if not its time to start). Never TELL your teenager to do things, you don’t like being told what to do and they won’t either. Sit down with them and explain you would like them to contribute within the household, as this will help you all. You can write a list of all the things that need doing then allow them to choose two or three things. Make sure you thank them and ask them how often they feel the item they have chosen needs to be done. Listen to their suggestion – if you need to help them understand it needs to be done more then explain by saying “I feel that may need to be done more, can you see why?”
Tip – Please do not do the item they have done after them, it may not be done as well as you would, but its important to acknowledge what they are doing. I remember someone telling me that they were at a family gathering and there were many guests all helping out in the kitchen. She asked if help was needed and she was given the carrots to peel and chop. She was very conscious of how to do them as she was unsure how the lady of the house wanted them to be done. She had wondered if she should ask but felt too nervous. Then on completing the task she handed the carrots over and, yes you guessed it, the host was not happy at the way they were done. This memory stayed with her for a long time and in many ways knocked her own confidence, especially when it came to asking people when she was unsure about something. Yes I know its only carrots…
Tip – Say thank you
Tip – If your child isn’t doing what they have chosen then sit down with them and ask them “why” – talk about it even if they choose something different.
Tip – Remember…choose your words wisely.
When your teenager is frustrated, angry, irritated and moody there will always be a reason why. Learn to really listen to your child – listening is having eye contact and time with them as this will help them to know you are there for them. They may not always want to tell you what is going on with them and there are different approaches to help your teenager. When you develop time to be with them they will generally see that you are there. Explain to them that you can’t help them while they are being the way they are but you do want to help. Do not raise your voice or become frustrated with them. Arguments won’t get any of you anywhere and will only add to the tensions within the family. You may feel that what your teenager is explaining isn’t relevant or right but to them it is… this is why it’s important to learn skills of listening to your child/teen. Listening requires you to connect and have empathy. This in turn will help your children to develop these skills.
Tip – Be patient with yourself and your teenager, it takes time to build the connection and skill.
Tip – If your child is moody teach them to breathe as you cannot help while they feel that way.
Tip – Remember, eye contact is crucial as it shows that you are listening. For all children and especially teenagers it is important to feel listened to.
Tip – Do not overcompensate – it will come across as patronising and can be too much. Remember discipline is key…firm but fair.
Discipline is important if you have never given discipline when your children were younger you may have a task on your hands. Discipline is important as it gives security to your children just as boundaries do.
Discipline is important to build respect. When you have issues placing discipline this can be because of your own childhood issues and restrictions. Often you can find yourself saying ‘I want to give my child everything I didn’t have’, or another common one is ‘I don’t want my child/children to have what I had’.
Divorce and separation can often affect disciplines and boundaries, in any of these you will find yourself over compensating in some form. You may also find that you have put a discipline in place and you don’t follow through because you believe it to be easier just for some peace and quiet.
Tip – When you are starting to introduce discipline it is like anything else – you will need patience and calmness.
Tip – Sit down with yourself and write down changes you can make and why. If you have a partner encourage them to do the same. If you and your partner are not coming from the same place this will create an opportunity for your teenager to use you both against each other. After all they are growing up and they want it their way. Agree the approach you want to put in place and how you will tackle it. Be sure you or you and your partner stick to it.
Tip – Teenagers are not young children, sit them around the table using eye contact and talk with them, explaining to them why you want them to listen and what you want from them. They may not be okay with what you are asking but this is the moment you need to explain why and what will happen if not.
Tip – Be disciplined yourself, don’t set a high expectation that is impossible to keep. Don’t change your mind half way through. Be constant in what you say and do. Praise your children, they are learning as you are.