Having worked with 8yr-18yr for the past 8 years, I have put together a few tips that may help your parenting skills. Learning what is going on in the heads of tweens and teens over the past number of years helps me to stay up to date on the many issues and problems they may face on a daily basis.
I am also the mum of 4 daughters (12yr – 20 yr), there have been plenty of ups and downs along the way but I have learnt what battles to pick, what is most important to them, what may add fuel to the fire during the many disagreements along the way, and how important it is to keep communication open and to have mutual trust at any cost.
Adolescents need to establish themselves as their own person – separate to, but yet part of, the family, connected to – but independent from their parents. I have learnt many lessons from my own mistakes – after all this is how we all learn!
PICK YOUR BATTLES
Parenting a tween/teen means facing many issues that can either result in all our war or maybe with a little less ‘reaction’ and a little more understanding, the result may be a more peaceful one. Try to remember what was important to you at their age, fitting in, feeling grown up and responsible, thinking you knew it all, believing your parents could not possibly understand what you are going through (they rarely believe we were ever teenagers). Try to pick the battles that really matter – take a breath before you launch in with your words of wisdom. I understand this is not easy but it really does make a huge difference.
EVENT + REACTION = OUTCOME
TRUST THEM UNTIL THEY GIVE YOU A REASON NOT TO.
Without trust the relationship between parent and tween/teen is very tricky. Trust is the bond that keeps the relationship strong. I would suggest you trust your own child (regardless of other peoples opinions) until they give you a reason not to. Talk to them about the importance of trust within your family. When tweens/teens believe you do not trust them, they feel they have nothing to break, when they believe you do trust them they are less likely to break that trust. I see this over and over again – setting boundaries (realistic to their age group) and sticking to them, helps the child to understand their boundaries. You know your child better than anyone else, if they have never given you a reason not to trust them – why would you question their trust.
Communication is vital to any relationship – this is the same for the parent-child relationship, try to keep communication open at all costs. When you cannot speak to them, text them, write to them – it does not matter how you communicate with them – once you do communicate. They are at a stage when they want to feel independent, capable of making decisions on their own, testing their boundaries – this is all ‘normal’ behaviour for a tween/teen. Their behaviour and the person they are is not the same thing. Try to separate the behaviour (typical to their age group) and the person. They are going through so many changes, physically, emotionally and psychologically, they are very often on emotional overload. This may cause the irrational
behaviour, silly decisions – try to separate the two, let a lot of the irrational behaviour go over your head and try to understand what might really be going on;
did they have a tough day at school
did they have an argument with a friend
has their skin broken out (big deal to them)
are they over tired
are they stressed over exams
are they lonely/not fitting in with they peer group
It is so important that you try to see beyond the behaviour and cut them a bit of slack. Im not saying accept rudeness or lack of respect but the general moodiness, lack of chat – try to ignore.
EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR FAMILY VALUES
What are your family values? Explain the need for values and what they mean. This is an area that I work on a lot when working with teenagers – it explains a lot of issues they face when it comes to;
Think of your relationship within your home like a tree:
the roots are the things that hold you together;
communication – love – trust – responsibility – traditions — whatever is important to your family, the branches are the many changes that will occur
during your parenting years but whatever happens if you stick to your values, the roots will remain strong and in tact and will hold you together.
Parenting is the most important job anyone will ever have and yet the only job that comes without any training – ask for help and support, it does make a difference.
“The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behaviour.
The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behaviour.”