Parenting can be difficult, especially when you have teenagers. Below are some steps that you can take to make the teenage years a little more manageable.
- Learn to recognize the normal developmental struggles of teenagers. – It is normal for teenagers to test limits as they work to establish their own independence and develop their own sense of identity. Friends become increasingly important to them and they often question those in authority. With proper support and guidance, teenagers are usually able to navigate this time without experiencing significant problems.
- Learn to recognize the signs of problems and get help if you need it. – Depression, extreme anxiety, panic attacks, defiance, self-destructive behaviors or thoughts, and substance abuse are not normal developmental struggles. If you see your teenager struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues, get them help.
- Be a parent, not a friend. – As a parent, you have a unique role of teaching your teenager life skills and providing them guidance about how to become a productive adult. It is hard to set the limits your teenager may need if you are always trying to be a friend.
- Recognize that a permissive attitude toward alcohol and/or drug usage leads toward more usage, not less. – Teach your teenager how to live life without using alcohol or drugs to cope.
- Set clear, consistent, predictable rules that have natural consequences that you can enforce. – While it is normal for teenagers to test limits, it is also normal for parents to set limits. Teenagers need limits, so they can learn how to function effectively within society.
- Tell your kids that you love them. – Teenagers need to know that you love them, especially when they are making mistakes.
- Separate the person from the behavior. – Your teenager may make a bad choice, but it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person. Help them learn from their mistakes rather than making them feel bad about who they are as a person.
- Play together as a family and with each of your kids individually. – The more fun you have with your teenager, the easier things tend to be at home. Find ways of engaging with them in enjoyable activities.
- Be respectful and expect respect in return. – Teenagers will often begin to treat us the way we treat them. Model respect so they learn how to be in healthy relationships.
- Help teenagers develop a realistic understanding of life. – Life isn’t always easy or fair. Your teenager will have numerous challenges in their life. Teach them how to learn from their mistakes and develop the tools they need to overcome challenges in the future.
Remember that your job as a parent is to provide a loving, safe environment for your teenager to learn and grow. You have a unique opportunity to help them develop the skills they need to thrive. By providing loving guidance, your teenager can become self-sufficient and will no longer require your constant guidance and supervision.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.