Parenting Teens Doesn’t Have To Be A Minefield
For many parents, it can come as a bit of a shock to find that our once cute little chatterboxes, who merrily skipped beside us at every opportunity, have suddenly changed into sullen and uncommunicative hermits.
The metamorphosis generally occurs around the age of eleven or twelve and is largely a result of normal pre-pubescent hormonal changes rather than anything at all to do with your parenting. These changes are likely to affect even the most laid-back and amenable pre-teen in both physical and emotional ways.
Should your previously loving and attentive child begin to show a slightly less even-tempered side to their personality and appear to be pushing the boundaries more and more don’t despair because there are ways that you can deal with these changes without becoming arch enemies.
Don’t Take It Personally
It’s perfectly normal for your child to want to become more independent and want to spend the majority of their leisure time with their friends rather than you. This isn’t a slur on your company or personality but a sign that your child is forging their own relationships and working out how they fit into the wider world.
- Try to avoid heated confrontations because they will be counter-productive. Remain calm and controlled – Set realistic and achievable behavioural boundaries and be firm but fair.
- Encourage openness whilst also accepting that teenagers like to have their little secrets.
- Unless your child is really pushing against your authority they are just testing their own power.
Keep The Lines Of Communication Open
It can be tough to get teens to open up and talk even if they have concerns which are worrying them.
- Maintain family time as much as possible and make it the norm to have discussions at mealtimes or some other convenient time. Rather than asking direct questions about school, etc. try to listen carefully to snippets of information. Often you will find out more by being indirect.
- Try to continue with set activities which you always do together so that you are offering one-on-one opportunities for them to talk to you if they need to.
- Show interest in their activities but avoid being openly nosy about friendships.
Don’t Be Too Judgmental
When children are young they naturally believe that their parents are pretty knowledgeable about the world. As they get a little older they start to question adult opinions and beliefs and start listening to information gathered from their peers.
- Be careful how you react to opinions which don’t match your own. Many pre-teens will simply want to push your buttons by offering up situations which they know will make you uncomfortable.
- Similarly, banning TV programmes, music or Social Media which you feel is inappropriate will only bring situations where they will go undercover in order to remain ‘cool’ with their friends.
- Learning to be more flexible in our own ingrained opinions is often the better approach.
Don’t Shy Away From Awkward Conversations
However uncomfortable some conversations may be it’s far better to be open and approachable than shut down the lines of communication.
- Being able to discuss any subject with your child will reap benefits in the long term. They may not want to converse about a topic like sex with you but it’s important to be able to set them straight if they are being given misinformation from their friends.
- Unfortunately drugs, cigarettes and alcohol are out there and our children may be put in situations where they have to make difficult decisions. If they are aware of the facts they will have armoury with which to avoid making long-term mistakes.
Never Ignore Potential Issues
Burying your head in the sand over any possible issue is not ideal.
- If your child seems to be doing anything which you are concerned about its best to be upfront and discuss your worries sooner rather than later.
- On the other hand, never assume your child is drinking etc. just because they want to go to a party or other social gathering. A little trust goes a long way and can help you to remain connected and close.
At the end of the day being a teenager is simply another one of those stages that we all must go through. No matter how difficult it becomes, with a little time and patience your teenager is sure to emerge as a well adjusted adult!