5 Tips To Help You Get Along With Your Teen…Yes It’s Possible

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Parenting Teens: We Were Close, How Did We Get Here?

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

Adolescence is a game changer. The child who used to share everything with you suddenly stops talking, except that is to argue with you about how unfair and completely unnecessary your rules are.

How much of what you say does your teen hear?

How much of what you say does your teen hear?

Household peace is broken by conflict over curfews, Facebook, and your teen’s belief that they should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

Yep, adolescence is a minefield, but at the crux of it all is this –

Teens want to be treated with respect, and they want their growing maturity to be acknowledged.

If conflict has edged its way into your relationship with your teen, consider a change to your parenting approach. Here are 5 tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Take Your Teens Concerns Seriously

When you’re juggling family responsibilities, work deadlines, and financial stress it can be hard to take your teens complaints about homework and relationship problems seriously, but while you might judge your teen’s problems as less important than your own, their feelings are just as real as yours. Listen to your teen’s problems without comparing them to your own, remember a fight with a friend may not be a big deal to you, but it’s a huge deal to your teen.

Tip #2: Let Teens Learn Through Experience

The more you lecture your teen, the less likely they are to listen. Pick your battles, and where you can, let natural consequences do the talking for you. If your teen isn’t ready in time to get a lift with you to school (despite being given advanced warning the night before), leave them money for a bus and leave at the time you said you would. Yes this will lead to a meltdown, but teens learn through experience far more quickly than they do through verbal instruction. If you protect your teen from the consequences of their actions, they will never learn.

Tip #3: Listen More, Instruct Less

Picture this – you walk in the door after an infuriating day and all you want to do is find your partner so you can unload about the gross injustices of your workplace. You start talking about the unfair deadlines your boss has set and the awful colleagues you have to put up with, and your partner listens for a few minutes before cutting you off so they can give you their ‘helpful’ advice. You see red. You’re not an idiot, you can think through and solve your own problems, all you wanted was a little support and to feel like someone understood your side of the story.

When your teen is having a hard time at school or with their friends you’ll want to jump in and solve their problems for them, but they won’t always want your advice. You’re more likely to build a strong relationship with your teen by talking less and listening more. There will be times when your teen needs you to step in and offer guidance, but timing is everything. If your teen isn’t ready to listen, your advice will fall on deaf ears. When in doubt – ask. Your teen will happily tell you when they want your input and when they don’t.

Tip #4: Be Open and Honest

As your teen starts to share less of their life with you, it’s hard to let go and not know what’s going on in your child’s head. As you search for ways to stay connected, you will be tempted to read your teens texts or secretly hack into their Facebook or Tumbler accounts. You might even be tempted to read their diary. Don’t.

It’s ok to monitor your teen’s Facebook and Tumbler pages to make sure they’re safe and being responsible with their online activity, but be open about your plans to do this. If your teen finds out that you’ve been secretly spying on them it could cause irreparable damage to your relationship.

Tip #5: Admit When You’re Wrong

If you want your teen to take responsibility and admit when they’re at fault – lead by example. Your teen won’t want to lose face and admit they were wrong, but acknowledging your own mistakes will help them to do this. Parents often fear that they’ll lose the respect of their teen if they admit they’re not perfect, but double standards are like a red flag to a bull with teens and your teen is much more likely to respect you if you’re open and honest.

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.


 

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