How Can I Be a Better Parent to My Teenager?

Medically Reviewed on 8/11/2021
Parenting a teenager isn't easy, but there are things you can do to make the process easier.
Parenting a teenager isn't easy, but there are things you can do to make the process easier.

Most parents might agree that parenting a teenager is not an easy journey. Adapting to your child's behavior can be pretty challenging. Recklessness, open defiance, mood swings, and endless fights are among the most common behaviors parents have to adapt to when raising teenagers.‌

Things to consider as a parent

There are a few pointers that you should keep in mind when raising a teenager. These include:

  • Understanding that teenagers need to know they can trust their parents
  • Trying to be more of a parent rather than a friend
  • Earning their respect as a parent 
  • Letting them know you will always be there for them

Understanding your teenage child

Parents should know that there is a difference between puberty and adolescence. An outright change in physical appearance often marks puberty. During this stage, children begin to develop noticeable changes such as growing facial and pubic hair and the onset of menstruation for girls.

A sudden change of behavior often marks adolescence. Parents may begin to notice that their children want to become more independent. Also, they tend to seek validation from their peers because they want to fit in with them. Their peers' approval becomes more important than that of their parents. 

During teenage years, teens may also go further in trying on different identities. Often, it is because they begin to notice how different they are from others. The quest to discover who they are may make them develop stress which increases conflict between them and their parents.

It is essential that you understand when your child is going through this phase. This will help you in making the right parental decisions. What you do at this stage has a significant effect on your child's development.

Tips for parenting a teenager

The following tips may prove helpful in raising teenagers:‌

  • Monitor their media exposure (watching and reading). Teens access a wide range of information through television, phones, and other devices with internet access. It's crucial that you know what they are reading or watching to regulate the information they are consuming. Limiting their screen time might sound extreme to them, but it's not. 
  • Put yourself in their shoes.  Try to let your child know that what they are going through is completely normal. Help them understand that they are allowed to feel the emotions they are experiencing. It is typical for them to get conflicting emotions ( such as feeling self-conscious and being proud of themselves simultaneously).
  • Create appropriate rules. Parents should create flexible rules to spend time with their kids without infringing on their kids' free time to socialize. Ensure that they observe simple things like bedtime. Also, you may decide to reward good behavior to encourage them to obey your rules.
  • Respect your child's privacy. Although you should always know your child's whereabouts, you should take caution not to invade your child's privacy. It is advisable to let your child enjoy their business even when you are not around. 
  • Look out for warning signs. It's normal for teenagers to change their behavior from time to time. However, if you notice your child's behavior change is going on for a long time, it might cause alarm. Look out for long-term changes like severe weight loss or gain, sleep issues, switching friends, and skipping school.
  • Educate yourself as a parent. Teenagers go through mood swings. It helps to be always prepared for anything and not to take anything personally. Reading guide books and seeking professional help might go a long way in helping you raise your teenager better.
  • Communicate well with your children. Ensure that you talk to your teenage child more often. Talking helps to connect with teenagers. In most cases, teenagers want you to understand what they are going through from a different perspective.
  • Set the expectations.  Although most teens may seem rebellious, parents should step up and explain their expectations clearly. With reasonable expectations, kids feel their parents care about them.   
  • Choose your battle carefully.  In most cases, you might be exhausted from work, social, and family life balance. It is essential to take care of yourself to prevent burnout. Selecting what issues need your undivided attention is a smart way to avoid getting burnt out. Topics that address drugs and substance abuse, sex, or sinking into depression should be addressed with the attention they deserve. 
  • Stay educated and keep your teenage kid informed.  Being informed helps you keep your child safe. Do not shy from talking to your children about issues like sex and drug use. Teach them your family values and make an effort to get to know their friends and their parents.

Proper communication between a parent and their teenage children is quite crucial. It goes a long way in protecting your child. Parents should know what their children are doing or going through without making them feel like they are being spied on.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/11/2021

Helpguideorg International: "Help for Parents of Troubled Teens."

KidsHealth: "A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years."

The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley: "Three Ways to Change Your Parenting in the Teenage Years."

The Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation: "Parenting Teens - Relationships With Your Teenager."