Raising Your Teen

Raising Your Teen

 

It’s no secret that raising a teenage child can present parents with a number of very challenging years. Many parents find themselves sending out their own S.O.S.  While we won’t resolve all of your parenting angst here, what follows will hopefully provide some useful insight and advice to assist you in your efforts.

Relax

There are a few realities about teens that can make parenting them challenging:

  • The prefrontal cortex of a teen is typically more underdeveloped then adults.  This is the area of the brain that weighs outcomes, forms judgments and controls impulses and emotions.
  • The nucleus accumbens, which is the pleasure and reward seeking part of the brain is fairly well enveloped in teens .  Consequently, pleasure or reward seeking combined with poor judgment can have negative possibilities for teens.
  • To some extent, risk taking and rebelling against parents is a nature part of a teen establishing their own sense of self and individuality.

Communication

By finding ways to communicate effectively with your teen, you will be ahead of the game in dealing with any situation.  Here are a few pointers:

  • Practice listening to you teen.  You can accomplish this by restating their word, avoiding negative body language (folded arms, rolling eyes, etc.), and deciding to take interest in what they are saying without prejudging.
  • Consider where to talk.  Teens may find it easier to talk when there is a situation to help ease  the pressure they may feel, like traveling in a car, eating ice cream or a meal, walking in a park, or riding bikes.
  • Find time to discuss “neutral” topics such as a movie, current event, or music interests.
  • Showing love is an important part of communication.  Find ways to let them know you care in a way that they feel, that your love is unconditional, and that there is praise for them along with discipline.

 Involvement

Here are some ways to be involved in the life of your teen:

  • Teach your teen important life skills such as managing finances, getting/keeping a job, and vehicle maintenance.
  • Consider inviting your child’s friends over for dinner. This is one way to show your acceptance, but you also get to learn more about who your child’s friends are.
  • Talk to your teen about important issues such as sex, drugs, and peer pressure. Talking to them sooner is better than later. Experiencing awkwardness in this area is far better then dealing with the consequences of not talking to them.
  • Don’t be the parent that never or rarely goes to your child’s concert, game, or whatever the case may be.  Doing volunteer work together is another great idea.  They will appreciate and remember the time you invest in them.

Discipline

When dealing with the behavior of your teen, there are two key factors to keep in mind:

Rules
  • You must be clear and concise in establishing your rules, keeping them short and to the point.   Also use exact language, such as be in the house by 9:00 pm.
  • Decide and discuss rules in advance, and be prepared to explain your reason for rules.
  •  Put rules in writing to help eliminate selective hearing, or “memory loss.”
  •  Know ahead of time which rules may warrant some flexibility, such as bedtime and chores.  There should be no negotiating when comes to your teen’s safety in such areas as substance abuse and reckless driving.
Consequences:
  • When giving consequences, remain calm. Steer clear of making it seem personal by referring back to the rules and the reasons.
  • Consequences could include more work, such as increased chores.
  • Consequences could include restrictions, as in less time for computer, cell phone, video games, or TV
  • Be consistent. Let your teen know that you will show consistency in fairness and firmness.

For some final words on discipline, lead by your actions, not just your words, chose your battles wisely, and have rewards to reinforce positive decision making. Also, don’t be too frustrated when your teen challenges you on the rules.  While they may want to push the limits, secretly they know they need you to keep them safe and on track.

Hopefully you found something helpful in reading this article. Stay tuned.  More articles on this topic to follow.

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