Parenting Tips: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Teen Years

The teen years can seem like a scary time for many moms, as it is a time that brings many changes in your child’s development as well as in the relationship between you and your child. However, our guide providing tips for parents of teens is designed to help you overcome the challenges of the teen years, and help you look out for any unhealthy changes in your teen’s behavior. Read on for our teen parenting tips.

Teen Parenting Advice

Educate yourself.
Read up on the teenage years and recollect what it was like being a teen. Expect changes in your child, such as changes in mood and a desire for increased independence. Knowing what to expect makes it easier to cope with the challenges of the teen years and can also help you better prepare your child for this exciting yet often difficult time.

Talk to your teen.
Speak with your child openly about subjects such as bodies, puberty, the differences between boys and girls and where babies come from. Provide honest, simple answers but be sure not to overload your child with information. Be sure to ask questions such as: do you feel differently? Have you noticed any physical changes lately? Are you feeling sad and you don’t know why? Bringing up such questions helps to reduce feelings of embarrassment or fear. Your child’s yearly physical exam is a great time to bring up these topics.

Have empathy.
Remember what it was like to be a teenager in order to understand your child’s concerns about high school and feelings of self-consciousness. Reassure your teen that these feelings are normal and nothing to be embarrassed about, and that it’s natural to feel all grown up one minute and like a child again the next.

Pick your battles.
Because rebellion is often a part of the teen years, objecting to all of your teen’s wishes will only help to heighten her need to act out. Give in to smaller acts of rebellion, such as dying her hair, and reserve your objections for more serious and unhealthy activities and behaviors, such as tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

Uphold your expectations.
Although your teen probably won’t admit to liking it, keeping expectations of your child’s behavior is important to letting your child know that you care. Expecting good grades and appropriate behavior, such as helping out with chores at home, lets your teen know that you care enough about him to expect these things from him.

Inform yourself and your teen.
Don’t avoid topics like sex or drug use; discuss them openly before your child is exposed to them. That way, your teen will have the information she needs in order to be able to make responsible decisions about these topics when she’s confronted with them. Also, be sure to know who your child’s friends and their parents are; this way, you can foster communication with them in order to take care of each other’s kids without interfering.

Limit TV and Internet time.
Limiting your child’s exposure to TV and the Internet can help cut down on negative influences. Also, by restricting these activities, you can help encourage your child to participate in after school activities, such as a music club or a sports team, which will help maintain good health and help develop lifelong skills.

Respect your child’s privacy. Your child’s room and phone should be considered just that – hers. By allowing your child to have some independence, you can help to build trust as well as self-esteem. However, be sure that you are aware of your teen’s activities; before your child heads out the door on a Saturday night, you should know where he is going and with whom.

Set appropriate rules. If your teen has consistently met her 10 o’clock curfew, reward her by extending it to 10:30. This lets your child know that you trust her but that you also still care about her enough to set boundaries.

Teen Parenting Help: Warning Signs

While change is synonymous with being a teenager, drastic changes can be a sign of trouble, such as depression or an eating disorder. Be on the lookout for one or more of the following warning signs in your teen:

  • sleep problems
  • dramatic weight loss or gain
  • constant skipping of school
  • sudden change in friends
  • references to suicide
  • dramatic changes in personality
  • signs of drug, tobacco or alcohol use
  • negative change in academic performance

If you notice any of these signs, be sure to speak with your child’s health care provider, a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Or start speaking to other moms of teens in this forum.