Raising kids can be tough! We know, we have been there.
However, it is also extremely satisfying to finally get through those dreaded teenage years still relatively sane! Having successfully raised three beautiful kids as well as having a hand in raising many grandchildren, we thought we would share a few tips on parenting teens. Keep reading for some great insights.
Leaving it too late
One of the biggest mistakes many parents make is thinking the TV is responsible for raising their kids. When this happens the parents are giving away an awesome opportunity to bond with their kids when they are very little. From the very first day they are on this earth those cute little bundles of joy need responsible parents who will spend quality time with them, reading to them, listening to them, playing games and helping them explore this wonderful world. Those parents who refuse to do this cannot then expect to later bond with their kids when they become teenagers. An old saying reminds us that respect is not given, it is earned. You need to earn it from your kids every week, month and year of their young, formative years, so that when they become teens they will want to spend time with you, listening to you, and being willing to accept your decision-making processes.
Not only do you need to spend quality time with your young children, you need to be exhibiting good communications skills to them. They don’t pop out of the womb equipped with high-level personal skills – they have to learn these. And whether they learn badly from dysfunctional friends, or learn well from you is up to you in a very big way. Sure, they will still pick up stuff from the playground and from mates who hate their parents, but if you can teach them well they will remember your lessons when the time comes. They will know how to listen well, how to talk to and not at others, and they will understand the importance of getting their point across clearly.
Not setting age-appropriate rules and boundaries
Every family needs rules, just as every society does. Take away those rules and anarchy will fill the vacuum. It is no different in the family. From the time your child can begin to understand they need to be taught family rules that will teach them how families work well together and accept certain family values. By doing so they will learn about consequences, appropriate decision-making, and cause and effect. They need to understand why those rules or boundaries exist, whether it is to keep them safe, or warm, or fed, or whatever the rule might be about. They will come to respect such things as homework being done as soon as they come home from school, or putting the trash out. They will also learn the consequence of not doing so such as losing their smartphone or TV privileges.
Not understanding the importance of personal space
All children need to understand that parents have private belongings and a space that they have no right to go looking though. Likewise they need to understand they also have the right to privacy and time out in their room without parents (or siblings) just barging in. Some of the biggest arguments we have seen is where one child just insisted on joining another sibling in their room when they just wanted to be alone to sort though some issues. By teaching them the importance of personal space they will know they have a safe place at home where they can go to when needed, as well as respecting the rights of others in the house. This gives each child some independence and allows them to better understand and give respect.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
I think there was a book out with that same title once. Basically it means that some things are not worth arguing over, while other and bigger matters are. Parents need to pick their battles early on and decide what is important enough to be firm on, and what has some flexibility and can be negotiated. Drugs in the house? No way! Your daughter wanting purple hair on the weekend? Maybe. Putting off homework until later so your son can watch the cricket final he loves? Let’s talk about it and get a commitment for the homework after the game.
Always expect the best from your kids
Kids make mistakes, we know this. That is why they are called children, not adults. But no matter what happens it is important that your kids know you always have their back and expect the best from them whatever they do. Not in a neurotic horrible way, but in a loving, supportive way so they know when making life decisions to make the right choice – ‘because mum or dad would expect this of me.’ If they think you don’t care, or it won’t matter to you, then they will tend to make wrong decisions based more upon what a mate suggests than what they know you would expect.
Always keep the door open
No matter what happens in the relationship between you and your child, please never use words like “I hate you,” “I will never forgive you,” or “I will never help you again.” There will be times when you will feel like you are losing your mind over things teenagers say or do, but if you have built a solid, loving, supportive, forgiving relationship with them over the years, you can always give them another chance. Never let them go out thinking you will not get out of bed in the middle of the night and drive halfway around the world to rescue them if they needed it. Never let them leave the house feeling like they no longer belong there or have the love and help they need. Be the parent and let them know you love them now and you always will. Let them grow up knowing seeing that love in action, and you will get though the terrible teens. You may be a little more grey around the temples with a few more stress lines around the eyes, but you will make it.
P.S. If you are going through a particularly rough patch, please don’t think you have to do it alone. There are many organisations and professionals out there who are equipped to help you get through this. So seek them out and utilise their many resources.
Living each adventure,
Christine and Trevor
Empowering people to live a healthy, active, authentic and fulfilling life.
Adelaide, South Australia.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure.