Parenting a teen can be a challenge no matter how many times you do it! Teenagers are challenging for a variety of reasons. They are trying to separate from us, becoming their own person, and that can be hard for both the parent and the teenager. But, to help you get a grip on parenting your teen there are four important components to good parenting that every parent should practice.
1. Communication — Without open door, communication it will be hard to get anywhere with your teenager. Take a look at the definition of communication on Wikipedia and decide whether or not you’re living up to the true meaning of the word. Wikipedia says, ”Communication is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior.”
Pay attention the words “exchange of…” this is very important. You can’t have communication in the form of a lecture without also listening to the thoughts of the other party involved in the communication. Practice listening twice as much as you talk when communicating with your child. As someone once said, “we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.”
2. Conflict Resolution – Learning the art of conflict resolution can go far when parenting teenagers. In fact, it can help you in every aspect of your life. It is important that when a conflict presents itself that you provide your teenager a safe place to discuss the issues and negotiate a resolution. Not only do you need to clearly enunciate your expectations and needs, you need to allow the child to as well. By demonstrating these skills your teenager will learn them too.
It’s also important to maintain a calm demeanor during the discussion at all times while still being assertive enough to clarify the points of the discussion. Getting everything out in the open from both sides, then identifying where you hold common ground is the best place to start any negotiation.
3. Discipline — The entire point of discipline is to ensure that you are teaching your teenager self-control or self-discipline. Discipline is not “punishment” and truly punishment can be very ineffective with teenagers. Teaching teenagers to assess a situation and think through all the consequences of any action and then using their own inner strength and willpower to avoid making mistakes is true self-discipline.
The way in which you teach self-discipline starts before they are teenagers and should be pretty much in place by then. However, sometimes they need a refresher course. Put in place rules and regulations that are in essence natural consequences to bad choices. For instance, if you ignore curfew by 1 hour, then the next time you want to go out you owe me an hour. Or, if the teenager chose not to do homework and suffers a bad grade, then they suffer a bad grade and you don’t intervene with the teacher to let them make it up. In addition, the bad grade forces them to lose time going out with friends to spend more time on studying. (The trick here is to ensure they are studying and not just trapped in the house)
4. Independence — Teenagers need independence from you. Your job as a parent is to raise adults. They’re simply not going to be children forever and honestly, you don’t want them to be! You want them to be independent from you. To do this you must give them space to become who they are in the safety of your set guidelines, which can be negotiated if they give you a good enough logical reason and not just stomp their feet and make demands.
By allowing teenagers to negotiate more freedom and independence which grows as they mature until finally they are out on their own you’ll create a smooth transition from child to adult. Whereas if you keep them bound by too many rules and regulations from infancy all the way to adulthood you’ll put adults out into the world who cannot make good choices for themselves. The teenage years are the time where they get to make mistakes under your guidance and protection. Let them.