Kids do not come with a manual however, parents gain leverage when you learn ways to survive your child's teen years. Before you assume that your child has become possessed and immediately believe they hate you—breathe! The teen years don't have to be a major crisis if you learn new techniques that are to your advantage. Let's acquire these benefits by learning some ways to survive your child's teen years!
1. Rebellion—It's Not Personal
Adolescence is a confusing time for kids, and by learning ways to survive your child's teen years, you can help them more effectively. They are caught at a crossroads where they are not a baby, but they are not an adult either. Primarily, the reason they rebel is to become their own person. The moment you take their rantings and overt drama personally is the second that you become the enemy, and it turns into a game of tug-of-war.
2. No, Drill Sergeant!
Providing structure for your children is necessary. It provides stability and a more effective way of enforcing discipline. However, the moment you become a drill sergeant toward your teen, it becomes far less likely that you will receive the best results. I have been the primary disciplinarian for my children for most of their lives. My lessons from my own teen years taught me that talking to a child instead of yelling presents a great advantage. It lays the foundation for open communication.
3. Discuss Goals without Persecution
Your child will share with you their dreams and aspirations. When they do, listen carefully, even if their dream does not match your expectations. As a parent, it is easy to get swept up into your own ideals about their future. But the truth is you are responsible for shaping the type of adult they become, not the career they choose. I allow my children to march to the beat of their own drum and encourage their dreams. Understanding is good for the soul.
4. Establish Trust
The trust between you and your child is an invaluable asset. By establishing trust, your child will discuss the tough issues with you. I know it is hard as a parent to discover that your child has crossed a line which you would want them to venture across. However, if you turn into this driving force of punishment, you will lose them to peer pressure, and they will become sneaky. When they come to you, talk to them calmly. If they made a mistake that you also made as a teen, explain to them how you felt then, and how you navigated through the growth process.
5. Spend Time with Them
Although you may receive a few eye rolls and deep sighs, your teen does want to spend time with you. They just don't want you to know that. However, always make the effort, even if you have a bad day, and you encounter drama. This shows your teen that despite their rebellion against you, you still love them. Later in life, they will actually thank you for it.
6. Balance Attention among Siblings
By balancing attention among siblings, you can provide them with a day that is theirs only. You can plan the day based on their preferences. If they are into sports, you could take them to the batting cages or to a park where you two can participate in basketball, baseball, or football. Your daughter may love the mall and the salon—plan a mani and pedi! Schedule a day where it is just the two of you and have fun!
7. Family Night is the Best!
A night of family fun is advantageous for you and your teen. It allows you all to just relax and act silly. The kids and I bowl, go to the movies, and to water parks during the summer. Our time at home has always been spent playing video games, dancing around while listening to music, and just being us. These are great ways to create memories and help you survive the not-so-wonderful times during your child's adolescence.
8. Chore Overload
Assigning chores for your kids provides them with responsibility. However, an overload of these duties could conflict with school requirements and leave them struggling for enough time to balance. They will scream at you that it isn't fair. I try to find a balance. Alternate these chores among your kids so one doesn't feel that they are upholding more of the household requirements than the other. Monitor their school assignments so you are aware of times when they really need more time for them.
9. Encouraging Individuality
Your child may not dress the way you did in school. They could fall into a different social group or choose to be unique in their own way. Encourage this even if it is a phase they are going through. I know sometimes it is hard to back up your child's sense of fashion, but it lets them know you care about who they are and how they choose to express themselves. I have always allowed my kids to choose their own clothing with limited restrictions—they were always age appropriate but unique.
10. Praise Them Often
The ultimate tool for surviving the teen years is praise. However, you should maintain balance. When they make good grades, reward them. However, also praise them for being themselves. Show them that you love them most of all for who they are. I try to share at least one praise a day as this builds self-confidence. You can, too.
Adolescence is hard for you and your child. It is a growth process for you both, in which you are both forever changed. What are some techniques you have utilized to help your teen?