Ever feel like pulling your hair out at times when parenting your teens and struggling with how to manage them better?
Keeping my cool as a parent of a teenager can be seriously tested. Parenting in the modern era (with technology) is definitely not the same as in the past.
Between navigating the teenaged brain that is constantly processing new information, and being responsible for the important decisions they no longer trust their parents to make, it’s enough to make me snap.
And when I try to add in the fact that my teen needs constant approval and guidance, I have all the ingredients for one epic battle—and no end in sight. I always have to remind myself that not everything will be easy at first. It may take some time before my teen begins to trust me again and I feel more at ease taking parenting decisions together again.
Here are 6 tips, from my own journey, on how to “Choose Your Battle” with parenting teens:
1. Always Remember That Teenagers Need Boundaries
Our teenager is no longer that little child. Having a teen means boundaries are those things that are non-negotiable. They are the things that you will not budge on no matter what, and that your teen knows will never change.
Examples of boundaries expected are
My teen at times will ask for more freedom, fewer rules, or a more lenient curfew. I can expect that, as he is now testing his own boundaries and trying to stretch his wings.
I do want him to explore and experience life and that’s okay. But I always do remind him that not all rules will be able to accommodate them. He needs to know what will and won’t be tolerated so that he can try things out and make mistakes. And he needs to know what he can and can’t do so that he can begin to feel like he has control over his own life.
2. Don’t Change Your Core Values
This is one of the most important things to note! As my teen grows up and becomes more and more independent, he will start to make their own decisions. And sometimes, those decisions will be the exact opposite of what I would have chosen.
That’s okay. In fact, I welcome it and I am always open to the “debate” with him. I understand that he is not rebelling against me by making the opposite choice. It is a phase of growing up, and that means he is trying to figure out who he is and what he believes in. I respect that.
He needs to make mistakes, try new things, and make choices that might not be the best ones so that he can learn from them. But that doesn’t mean I have to let him make poor decisions and live with the consequences.
3. Build Relationships With Your Teen
Building a positive and nurturing relationship with your teen can be easy and difficult at the same time. Many times my teen got very upset with me, and that is okay.
I know he has a lot of anger, frustration, and sadness inside him, and he might not know how to process it. I validate his feelings.
I don’t need to try to get my teen to like me again. I don’t need to defend the decisions I made that upset him. Instead, I will try my best and understand him by asking him open-ended questions like “Why do you think I made that decision?” or “How do you feel about that situation?”
Not every time he will want to reply to me or even talk to me at first, but I never give up and kept on trying.
4. Set Clear Expectations And Rules
I always encourage my teen to make his own decisions but one thing I want to be clear about is that I have a set of expectations and rules. I put together a “Contract” with my teen that outlines the house rules and expectations for him. It also outlines the expectations I have for him when it comes to school, work, or friends. I make sure I go over the contract with my teen and make sure he understands what is expected of him.
I know some parents do set “Grounding” or “Time-Out” as the consequence of breaking the rules or acting out. Is entirely up to you to decide what the contract includes as every family is different.
5. Decide What Matters Most To You: Behaviors Or Consequences?
Many times I have to deal with my teen doing something I don’t approve of at some point.
No matter what he does, I have to make a choice—do I punish his behaviour or just the consequence of his behaviour?
Commonly, parents will choose to punish the behaviour, but there will be some who will only punish the consequences. Because each parent is different, and each teen is different, there is no “right” way to parent.
However, there are some things that I would consider when making this decision:
- My teen’s age: Is he still a minor? If so, I have to follow the rules set forth in their state
- My teen’s personality: Is he the type to rebel against everything I say? If he is, setting consequences for his behaviour might be a better option than punishing the behaviour itself.
Image from vecteezy.com
6. Take Care Of Yourself: Eat, Exercise, And Relax
Teenagers are emotional beings. We all have been there. The way they process the world is different from the adults, which means they need different things to help them cope. That is why teenagers need parental guidance, NOT parental control.
One thing I do to help myself to stay in control and be a better parent is to make sure I am taking care of myself. Make sure I am eating well, exercising, and finding time for myself so I can stay relaxed, happy, and in control.
This isn’t an option—it’s a necessity! If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to parent your teen effectively. The teen years can be super challenging, to say the least. But if you remember that teens need boundaries, you need to trust them to make their own decisions, and you need to take care of yourself, you can get through it.
I really hope these simple 5 tips are able to help you parent your teens without that major struggle and having your hair pulled out. If you have more tips to share or questions to ask, do feel free to comment below.