How many times have you called your parents to tell them how very sorry you are for giving them so much trouble during your teenage years? If you’re currently raising a teenager, chances are you’ve done it quite often (or at least thought about it). You managed to get through sleep deprivation the first few months of their lives, survived the terrible twos, and even mastered the art of the inquisitive grade-schooler. Yet, now that your child is a teen, the challenges seem plentiful.
It is during these years that your child will go through physical, emotional, and intellectual changes that will ultimately help them transition into young adults. They’re separating themselves from the family more, learning to become more independent, and essentially trying to identify with their peers. It can be a difficult time for parents and teens. Though every teen is different and you can’t predict the future, knowing what to do as issues arise can help you all get through the next few years.
Put Yourself in Your Child’s Shoes
You remember being a teenager yourself and the many obstacles you faced on a regular basis. Trying to meet the grades to keep your parents satisfied while desperately wanting to fit in with your friends was a lot. Keep this in mind as you parent your teenager as it can provide you with understanding when they’re not willing to open up.
Also, be aware of the trials and tribulations that teens go through today as they have changed drastically. With platforms like social media and the many pop culture trends, stigmas, and influences, you need to know what your child is up against in order to fully understand and parent them accordingly.
Pay Attention to the Signs
There’s typical teenager behavior and then there are mental and physical health issues that need to be addressed. It’s not always easy to decipher between the two, but as a parent, you need to pay attention to your teen’s habits and patterns. They might lose interest in activities, start hanging out in their room more, have difficulty sleeping, eat less (or more), have mood swings, start abusing substances, and so much more.
If you start to notice several changes at once or behaviors that are out of character or dangerous to your teen or others, then you have to step in to get them help. Whether you enroll them in a Montecito teen rehab as a result of alcohol or drug abuse or you send them to speak with a therapist due to declining grades and fallouts in school, the sooner you get them the help they need, the better.
Set Rules (While Giving Some Space)
Your teen is not yet an adult and therefore, still needs structure, rules, and expectations to stay on the straight and narrow. It is important to set clear rules about what you expect from your teen as well as consequences for what happens when those expectations aren’t met.
As you do this, however, keep in mind that they’re not little children anymore. Tightening the rope too much and not allowing them to grow, experience, and make their own mistakes will only hinder them in the long run – or force them to act out. For instance, allow them to hang with their friends after school without needing an adult to hover over them, but expect them to be respectful, in public, and to have a curfew.
From teaching them about safe driving and relationships to hoping they avoid the wrong crowds and dangerous substances, there is so much to worry about with parenting a teenager. Though every situation is different, the best thing you can do for yourself and your child is equip yourself with effective tools to help you support them through this transitional stage in their lives.