How Do I Deal With My 16-Year-Old Son?

Medically Reviewed on 6/28/2021

A 16-year-old boy feels that he is a grown-up, yet he behaves like a kid. Deal with your 16-year-old son by allowing him to explore his interests, giving him space, praising him when he takes responsibility and using other strategies.
A 16-year-old boy feels that he is a grown-up, yet he behaves like a kid. Deal with your 16-year-old son by allowing him to explore his interests, giving him space, praising him when he takes responsibility and using other strategies.

Sweet 16 is special. A 16-year-old boy feels that he is a grown-up, yet he behaves like a kid. Boys at this age become more independent and responsible. Below are a few recommendations that may help a parent deal with their 16-year-old son.

  • As a parent, help your 16-year-old son to explore different avenues for potential careers and provide a valuable learning experience.
  • Let your son’s imagination soar with the right tools for the right job or at least let him explore as per his interest and personal growth.
  • He may need your help to recommend grown-up activities and wave his childhood goodbye while helping him figure out his future.
  • Hopefully, your teenager needs you less and less as he becomes more independent, and he is less likely to cause family drama or conflicts. You should see him making better decisions because he has a better handle on his emotions. Don’t be upset when he wants you to stop doing little things for him because he wants to expand his own personal care.
  • Many teens at 16 years of age overschedule their after-school hours while trying to fit in sports, computers, friends and other extracurricular activities. This is all in a mad rush to figure out a direction in life and pursue the future looming over their head. Help your teen figure out what works for him and what doesn’t while making time for relaxation and his increased need for sleep.
  • The good news is your 16-year-old son may be more resistant to pressure from his peers and social media. The difficult news is that he is being influenced by his hormones. It’s time to have another talk with him about sexuality and the consequences of physical relationships.
  • Some boys are natural loners and that’s fine. They spend a lot of time inside their head figuring themselves out that requires alone time with music or books. The best you can do is find an extracurricular activity for your son.
  • Teenagers spend all day at school interacting with friends and other people they have no interest in but are forced to spend time with. By the time the school day is done, they often just want to decompress alone. Make dinner time mandatory at the dinner table to ensure a little time with him.
  • Teenagers at this age have a natural tendency to want to rebel. They want to explore their surroundings and boundaries and push limits that may be natural instinct. However, as a parent, sometimes you need to reel them in to keep them in control.
  • Stop calling your teen a “boy.” Most likely he thinks you treat him like he is a little boy. He does need direction from you, but your son is eager to do things his way. Set a positive example, let him know your expectations of him and loosen up a bit.
  • Carefully decide what is important for him to do and for him not to do. Don’t let minor issues get in the way. After puberty, boys change. They are not the same as they were when they were little. He’s growing up. Respect that.
  • Respect his points of view, and spend more time explaining yours. Don’t fall back on “because I said so” or “I’m the parent, you’re the child, so do as I say.” Try to avoid raising your voice or hitting him in anger. Set out general goals and plans as far in advance as you can to give him time to adjust and plan.
  • When he does what he needs to do, or better yet, shows initiative and takes on responsibility, thank him specifically. It won’t happen overnight, but you must treat him like he is already the person you want him to be and not a work in progress.
  • Sit down on a day he is receptive and ask him what you can do to make things go more smoothly for him. Don't take his responsibilities from him, but maybe understanding what is stressing him out might help you both.
  • Listen to him and try not to take it personally. If you are smothering him, then promise to try to give him more space and allow him to do more things. However, explain to him that how much room you give him depends on him and the way he handles it.
  • The other thing you have to be careful about is to not micromanage. He may not be doing things the way you do them, but as long as it gets done in a reasonable time without causing you more work, then don't worry about it.

Although 16-year-old teens will test the rules, they mostly want respect, (reasonable) boundaries and opportunity to make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes. Experience, for better and worse, is still the best teacher. The wisest of parents know this and allow their child to make as many of their own decisions as possible. Then, parents can help their teens celebrate the things that turn out well and learn from the things that do not.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/28/2021
References
WebMD: "You're Son at sixteen: Milestones." https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/son-sixteen-milestones#1

CWLA: "Raising Better Parents: Advice from a sixteen-Year-Old." https://www.cwla.org/raising-better-parents-advice-from-a-sixteen-year-old/