The teen and tween years are an awkward time in child development between being a “kid” and a “young adult” (hence, the word tween which signifies the time period be-tween childhood and adulthood). As you may remember, going through adolescence as kids this age are making the transition from depending on their parents to being totally immersed in the worlds of their friends. It is also challenging for parents of teens because they are also navigating how to transition from being a parent of a child to the parent of a pre-adult. Here are some helpful tips to help you manage the hefty task of parenting teenagers:
- Give them an inch, not a mile: They are asking (maybe even demanding) a mile from you. You remain the parent and the final authority on what they do, who they spend time with, and where they spend their time. Set limits and curfews, consider expanding those limits as your teen demonstrates that they respect those limits and they are making responsible choices. You are not one of their peers, you are their parent and responsible for their behavior until the day they turn 18 years old.
- Communicate that you trust them to make good choices, but that they are responsible for the outcomes of their bad choices: This is a pivotal time in a child’s development when they will continue to fall and try to pick themselves back up but they still want you to carry the burden of their fall. There is a way to teach your kids how to be accountable and responsible for their choices while they are still under your roof, which is necessary for raising responsible adults.
- Monitor their use of social media and technology: Of course, there are ways for your children to have social media accounts that you do not have access to (and there should be technology restrictions placed on them if they violate this rule). Before buying your teen their first phone, you are notifying them that in order for them to keep their phone (and for you to pay the bill) that you have access to their phone at all times without advanced notice. This means you can check and monitor their Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Voxer, and text messages. Until they are 18, they are still operating under your rules. Put limits on screen time and make sure chores, homework, and other responsibilities are taken care of before they earn screen time.
- Encourage activity and “play” time: We’ve all seen the transition in kids from being outside playing to being inside attached to computers, tablets, and phones. Encourage your child’s interests in sports, hobbies, or other clubs that promote social interaction and engagement. Our kids rely on these interactions to be able to manage and deal with conflict, learn how to begin and end relationships, as well as how to trust their instincts about who is safe and who isn’t. These are skills that your kids will need in the future and they cannot learn them from Facebook.
- Have dinner time and family time together: Even though your kids may want absolutely nothing to do with you, it is important to stick with family rituals and traditions. This helps you stay informed about who their friends are and what their interests are (at the moment) and it also provides them with a consistent opportunity to interact with the family on a regular basis. You can make it fun like “Family Fridays” or “Taco Tuesdays” and make sure it happens every week. If you are too busy, re-evaluating commitments and schedules is in order.
**This blog post is not designed to be a replacement for professional mental health services. If you are interested in learning more about parenting or how to support your children during their transition to becoming an adult, contact us today.