The teenage years can be a stressful time for both teenagers and their parents. During this time, teenagers tend to test the limits as they try to figure out their place in life. To help you navigate the challenges that teenagers present, we have listed some strategies to help guide you through the teenage years.
- Be a parent, not a friend. – Your kids will have a lot of friends over their lives, but they won’t have many people that will help guide them in life. As a parent, you have a unique opportunity and obligation to teach your kids the tools they need to thrive as an adult.
- Recognize how important friends are to your teenager. – Being a part of a group is a big part of the teenage years. Friends are often the biggest influence on kids during this time. Be aware of who your kids are hanging out with and provide them opportunities to be a part of healthy, productive groups.
- Teach your teenager skills. – You have a short window of time to continue to teach your kids skills that will help them in life. Don’t criticize, teach instead.
- Model the behavior you want your teenager to exhibit. – The expression “do as I say, not as I do” has never been effective. Teenagers watch what you do and how you do it. If you want them to be respectful of other people, then show them how by modeling the behavior you want to see in them.
- Treat your teenager with respect. – Remember that no one likes to be yelled at, criticized, or disrespected. If you treat your teenager with respect, it is easier for them to respect others.
- Make time for conversation. – Teenagers need to be able to talk about what is going on in their lives. Make time for your teenager and make it a priority to listen to what is going on in their life. After all, how do you guide them if you don’t even know what is in their mind?
- Tell your teenager that you love them. – Remember that just because teenagers test limits and may work hard to test your patience, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to know that you love and care about them. They may push you away at times, but they still want to know that you are still there.
- Set clear, consistent, predictable rules. – The more teenagers know what you expect, the easier it is for them to meet your expectations. If the rules keep changing or they aren’t consistent, your teenager will learn to ignore them.
- Make sure that consequences are enforceable. – If you create rules that you have no way of enforcing, you have set yourself up to fail. Remember, that teenagers test limits.
- Separate the person from the behavior. – Remember that your teenager is building their self-esteem. They may do “stupid things”, but that doesn’t make them “stupid”.
- Help your teenager learn from their mistakes. – Your teenager will make mistakes. It is how they learn. Help them develop a “lessons learned” mentality and take every opportunity to teach them the skills you want them to have.
- Don’t tolerate alcohol or drug use. – Recognize that a permissive attitude toward alcohol or drug use leads to more use, not less.
- Play as a family and keep laughter in the house. – It is always amazing what happens to the tension in the house when laughter is present. Learn to have fun with your teenager and teach them how to be light-hearted.
- Get help when it is needed. – Teenagers often will “act out” when they are in emotional distress. If your teenager is constantly angry, depressed, anxious, or rebellious it could be an indication that they are in crisis. Provide your teenager the help that they need so they can thrive later in life.
Remember that your job as a parent is to provide a loving, safe environment for your teenager to grow. By helping your teenager develop the skills they need to deal with the many challenges of life they will become self-sufficient and no longer require your constant guidance.
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.