Being a parent to teenagers can seem like a daunting task, you will often hear of other parents complaining about the “mood swings“ and the technology that we are so far behind with, but it doesn’t have to be as stressful as it seems.
Ultimately every child and parent is different, but there are some things you can try to see if they improve your lives and relationship with your teenager. We all know that teenagers are asserting their independence, which can often seem as though we are not getting the gratitude that we should for the effort we have put in. But just remember it’s also a difficult time for teenagers finding their way in the world. Here are some tips from parents of teenagers who have experienced what you have, and found some things that work for them.
Technology is something that we all think the younger generation has the monopoly on, however, there is nothing stopping us from being involved, keeping up with the latest apps, or even getting in on the games but teenagers play as well. In past times we would’ve taken out a board game and played as a family, and many of us still do. But there isn’t a reason why you can’t pick up a controller and challenge your teenager to a game of fortnight, or even an old-fashioned Nintendo game such as Mario Kart for some entertainment now and then. My kids love to race me, and even though they have gotten to the point that they beat me quite often, it’s fun to have that time together with them.
We don’t need to pretend that we know everything about all the games, but it’s not about trying to act “cool“ and thinking that we know better. Simply showing an interest in what our children are doing can help us keep that connection and relationship healthy. Many children have hobbies that they love and continue through teenage years and being a part of this can be a positive experience.
Another way in which technology can help us with our teenage children is through communication. If your child has a pay as you go Sim or a monthly contract, they are going to be much more likely to contact you. My kids can use their mobile to message me, which has really helped up our communication. You could also set up apps on a Childs phone that can help keep them safe and organized as well. So using technology to your advantage when you have a teenager can be very useful.
Showing an interest
Showing an interest in the hobbies and music your teen likes can be beneficial. Find out who your teenager’s favorite band or singer is, and maybe buy them the odd concert ticket here and there. If you don’t want to do concerts buy an mp3 or even play the music while you dance along and embarrass them (in the privacy of your house). This shows that you support their interests and care about what they like and enjoy doing — and you may also enjoy a good laugh together.
We don’t necessarily have to start blasting Billie Eilish music out of the car, but just knowing the odd song, and not dismissing everything your teenager says will help your relationship stay strong. Teenagers tend to become quiet and withdrawn at times, it can be much more difficult to keep the conversation flowing with them when this happens, so wait for the opportunity to talk when they come to you, and be ready with an open-air and welcoming arms if there is an upset or something that is bothering them. All we can do is be there with advice if asked for, and keeping things as positive as possible.
Picking your battles
Some people compare teenagers to toddlers at times. Because managing emotions seems to become quite difficult during the teenage years. Picking your battles wisely and making sure that you aren’t picking an argument for no reason is essential to keeping things running smoothly. Reminding yourself that teenagers can be difficult to talk to and that they don’t mean half of the things they say, can really help you stay calm. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid discipline and accept any behavior from a child, but just thinking carefully before reacting will see you in a much more positive situation in the end.
Teaching your children respect starts by leading by example. When they are small children you have to teach manners, but that doesn’t end when they are teenagers. We can’t always expect teenagers to be respectful without showing them a little trust and respect themselves. Ultimately we would all be happy if everyone was respectful and kind to each other at all times. However, this isn’t always the case due to life stresses and strains. But understanding that teenagers are human too, with their own difficulties and life stresses can allow us to have empathy and show them with our own actions how to react to a stressful situation.
Show you care
There is a school of thought that shows that if a teenager seems particularly grumpy, or cross, they may just need a hug or a sign that their family cares for them. Of course, anger and disrespect should not be accepted, but sometimes a teenager needs a little extra care and attention to help them feel safe. If you have a teenager that is currently having a bad time by the looks of things, then try asking them if they need a hug, and reminding them that you love them daily. This can quite often be enough to help a teenager out of a difficult patch. Even just buy another bag of their favorite sweets, or cooking their favorite meal at the end of the day, is essentially showing you care. Teenagers may reject your care and attention as they get older, but giving them that little bit of daily affection can really work wonders.
Managing expectations can be difficult, if you are able to drive your teenager to their friend’s house one day, but not the next, they may find this frustrating, but here is where managing expectations comes in handy. If you are clear about what you are able to do, and you are clear about your expectations from them, then you will find yourself on steady ground with fewer miscommunications. Of course, not every day is going to go as smoothly as you planned, but clearly managing everyone’s expectations, telling everybody what your actions are going to be, and why, and then following through with such actions is essential. Avoiding conflict and arguments through misunderstanding isn’t always going to be easy, but it will be worth it. This also works both ways, so asking your teenager to help manage your own expectations is a great idea too. If your teenager promises to be home at a certain time, then It needs to be clear for their own safety that they should be home at that time.
Give them space
Discovering and exercising their independence is quite an important thing for teenagers. They’re growing up and need to be able to find their own way in the world and giving them space to explore is essential. Doing so when you know exactly where they are and are able to help if they need any assistance is a great way to start encourage independence. That usually starts with the odd shopping trip here in there with their friends, but eventually they aren’t going to need you to help and will be out spending time with their friends. We want to keep our children safe at all times, but we can hinder their independence by not allowing them to test the waters by themselves. Many parents would advise that by allowing our teenagers to try out new situations in public, such as navigating their finances on a shopping trip, we are building trust and independence that will allow our teenagers to turn to us when they really need to.
Ultimately you know your child best, and it’s always good to follow your instincts. That’s all we can do as parents, and making sure that your teenager has a little independence while everybody is respected, safe, and loved, can ensure a happy home.