5 Positive Ways to Parent your Adolescent

Bond with your adolescent - Parenting resources by ZenParent

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The word “teenage” brings an involuntary shudder to many of us who have seen the change in either our own kids or the kids around us. Then, we sheepishly remember our teen years, when we’d quite a bit of anguish for our parents as well. All of us have been in power struggles with our parents. Despite that, many of us end up behaving exactly like our parents when arguing with our kids on something!

If there is one thing which an adolescent demands, it is respect. Ironically, as parents we still see them as small children and the word “respect” is somehow accorded by us only to people who are older than us or probably more knowledgeable than us.  However, I’m increasingly noticing that when I treat my daughter(who’s on the verge of turning 13) with respect, she returns the favour. So I’m now working hard to “up” the respect, dial down the “auto yelling” and remember how I wanted to be treated at her age.

1. Stop trying to run their life for them: My daughter is not a morning person. She is a night bird. She can stay awake till 2am, but early morning alarms are her nemesis. Unfortunately the world does not cater to her type. And the school bus WILL leave, with or without her. I have decided that I will yell no more at her to wake up and goad her into the bathroom and keep shouting out the time every 10 minutes while she grumpily rolls her eyes.

Instead, I have decided that she is old enough to get up when the alarm rings and get ready on time for school. I have told her that I will not drive her to school if she misses the bus. I need to stop trying to run her life for her and let her face the natural consequences of her actions. If she thinks that this is a fun way to miss school, she will be grounded in her room and she cannot have access to any form of entertainment and she has to study for the entire school hours.

2. Respect their privacy: As parents that were raised in a generation where yelling, capital punishment and “do as I say” worked, we are a little lost on how to deal with sensitive issues like privacy which today’s young adults expect. Giving them privacy also automatically means you are trusting them not to be stupid. This is a fine line to walk. Talk to your child how you are respecting their privacy and how they need to reciprocate that trust. Sometimes your voice in their head is the only barrier between a good decision and a bad one.5

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3. Appreciate good behaviour: I’ve realized recently that I’m quick to criticize my daughter but tend to take her good behaviour for granted. She tidies up her room, I don’t say a word. “Of course she has to tidy up her room – nobody appreciates me for providing breakfast!”, I tell myself. But remember how often we would praise our children when they were little? Positive encouragement reinforced good behaviour then and it works just as well now. And that’s why I’ve decided to do it more often.

4. Pick your battles: My daughter’s been asking me for a colour streak in her hair. My answer was “No way. No chemicals in your hair till you turn 18!” She also wants a dog. Badly. But I really do not have the bandwidth to take care of another living being at this point. Looks like I may have to give in on something. I remember how frustrated I used to be when I was seemingly denied everything I asked for as a teen. “You hate me because you don’t let me do ANYTHING I want”. We have to to let go on some of the relatively unimportant issues.

5. Give them a chance to mend: The “old hag” in me comes out when I harp on her faults. How she goofed up over a year ago. I need to let it go and give her a chance to redeem herself. God knows I am certainly not perfect and have made my fair share of mistakes. When she feels remorse and is ready to make amends, I need to graciously let her. Without bringing up the past.

I remind myself that, in the quest for raising the perfect child (perfect according to my own standards), I should not forget to enjoy her last stint in my house. We invest so much time and energy in our children as infants, toddlers, preschoolers, primary graders, middle-schoolers and this is the last stretch now. I have to be extra careful not to leave a bad taste in the mouth in this final lap. Soon, she will fly away to college and I will look back on these years with longing. And I want her to look back with good memories too!

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