How to Parent a Teenager?
Do you have a teenager in the house? Are you at your wits end? Tearing your hair out? Stop. There is another way. While I’m in no position to dish out advice on how to parent a teenager, I’ve found someone who is. I gained a tremendous amount from the superb advice in this Expert Guest Post by Clara Masters of Massageholic.
Oh… and by the way, I believe these principles apply to all parenting… actually, all relationships. If we could put start practising these mindfulness principles, our home life would be transformed, our world would be transformed.
Having A Tough Time With Your Teen? Mindfulness Is The Key
The teen years can be tough for kids and parents alike. Teens have to deal with physical changes, mood swings, new social settings, and academic pressure. They are often keen to assert their independence, yet they still need their parents for guidance.
It’s common parents of teens to become exasperated or even angry with their kids. Personality clashes can weaken the parent-child relationship at this age. Parents often forget how hard it is to be a teen.
Change your approach
Fortunately, you can make life easier for everyone by learning the principles of mindful parenting:
1. Listen carefully to your child at all times, giving them your full attention.
2. Take a compassionate, non-judgmental stance when talking about your child’s problems.
3. Pay attention to your own emotions.
4. Take a realistic inventory of your parenting skills, and forgive your own weaknesses.
You’ll notice that these principles require that you make changes, rather than your teen. This is for two reasons. First, we can’t control anyone else’s behaviours – only our own. Second, as the adult and parent, the onus is on you to take the initiative in the relationship. If things have broken down in your family, start by examining yourself.
How to put these principles into practice when handling your teen
1. Stop reacting, and start noticing: Do you tend to jump to conclusions or get angry at the slightest provocation? If so, you may be inadvertently setting the stage for conflict. The solution is to close your mouth and open your eyes and ears instead.
For example, if you discover that your teen has been using drugs, do not immediately start shouting. Give them a fair chance to explain themselves. Get curious rather than furious. Make a point of getting the full picture before passing judgement.
2. Tune into your feelings: It’s normal to feel mad, disappointed, worried, upset, or even terrified if you are having problems with your teen. It’s not the feelings that cause trouble – it’s what you do with them.
You don’t have to act on or express every single emotion. Neither should you try to repress them or act as though everything is OK. Instead, try to notice them before letting them go. All feelings are valid.
3. Notice any parental guilt, and let it go: A Dutch study of 901 families found that parents who accepted their own limitations had happier teens. In other words, if you can take a realistic approach to your parenting, your kids will be better off. Don’t be afraid to give yourself some praise. Embrace self-love.
4. Become an active listener: Teens often complain that their parents don’t listen. Remember, there’s more to listening than just waiting for your turn to speak. When your child is talking, give them your full attention. Make eye contact, nod your head when they make an important point, and never try to complete their sentences.
Remember, persistence and consistency is key. Prove to your teen that you will always try your best to listen. When they feel loved and respected, your relationship will take a turn for the better.
About the Author – Clara Masters
Clara is an entrepreneur and content marketer. In a former life, as a corporate business executive, she relied on yoga, reflexology and other alternative practices to fight stress, anxiety and find balance. At Massageaholic.com she’s on a mission to bring massage therapy closer to those who want to live a balanced, healthy life, connecting body, mind and spirit.
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How’s it going with the teenager in your home?
My son’s only 4 so I’ve got a way to go. I do have a bonus daughter who’s 14 but it’s not my job to parent her – she already has two parents who are doing a sterling job AND she’s an absolute Darling.
We are so very fortunate to not be experiencing any teen trauma in our household… still, it can’t hurt to start reading up to avoid any potential future drama. Thanks a million, Clara for a superb post.
What an amazing article, Clara! It is crazy how fast we can get into unhealthy patterns with our kids. We jump to conclusions, get angry, they get defensive and angry… everything ends up out of control! I loved that this article gave practical advice on how to use mindfulness in parenting. It is easy to say “don’t react” to yourself, but harder to implement. I’ll definitely be putting some active listener skills to work in the future. A special thanks to Lauren for this post! You’re right, these are great tips for every relationship!
Thanks so much for your enthusiastic comment, Ron. Yes, me too. What better time than the holidays to work on our active listening skills?