Your teenager has a new litany of words including silence, they are growing as you watch them and street cred is now decidedly on their side. So what does the parent of a teenager do? Fortunately there are many who have survived bringing up a teenager, even teenagers, and their advice is now freely available. Here are some tips on parenting teenagers.
- Communicate. You may not speak their language but if you are sincere and open with your teen, they should respect your interest and feel free to discuss things with you. And sometimes the best part of communication is to listen
- Be frank. Teenagers want the truth. Don’t sugar coat the pill. Tell them what you think and why. Be honest. Your child may not agree with you or like what you say but they should respect you. And if you are honest with them, hopefully they will be honest with you.
- Give strong guidelines. Teenagers may look and act cool but inside, many are nervous and hoping for advice from someone they know and trust. Be that someone. Tell your child exactly how you think they should behave. It’s up to them to make the choice but saying what you think they should do and why is very important. Kids want guidance.
- Check out yourself. All the advice in the world to a teenager will count for little if you don’t walk the walk. You life is on show. Your teen knows who you are and how you behave. Your example is one of the best ways to raise a child.
- Rehearse your lines. Think ahead. Your teen is going to be confronted with such issues as drugs, alcohol and sex. Have you planned to talk about these issues? Are you simply waiting for the matter to be raised and then you plan to wing it? Be prepared. Think about what you will say and when. If it’s natural and you have a good open relationship with your teen, there should be nothing but good come from your conversation. But plan ahead.
- Give them independence. Sooner or later your teen will start to make decisions for and by themself. You can’t hold their hand forever and you don’t want to. Encourage your teen to make sensible and responsible decisions. They need to fly the nest at some stage.
- No substitute for time. You might see your teen every day. You might speak to them every day. But time is a precious commodity. Spend time with your teen. Shut out all other distractions. Give them your greatest gift – yourself. Allow them to open up to you when and if the need arises. Love is not a commodity to turn on and off. Be there for your teen at all times.
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