When it comes to parenting your teens, does your home feel more like a battleground than a sanctuary?
If so, you’re not alone.
Navigating the teenage years is stressful for both you and your children.
You only want to help your teenagers succeed, yet everything you say or do seems to annoy them.
You’re understandably frustrated by their mood swings and irritability.
So, how does a parent survive these challenging teenage years?
As someone who coaches teens for a living, I’ve learned that even the most difficult teenagers are capable of transformation.
I’ve seen many struggling teens become successful students and well-adjusted members of the family.
With the right parenting tips, you can raise a respectful, responsible teen — and bring peace back to your home, too.
It’s normal to have problems between teens and their parents. Here’s why…
Growing up isn’t easy — and neither is parenting teens.
If you find yourself in a constant struggle with your teenagers, here are a few common reasons why they might be acting out:
A. Your teen is learning to express his/her emotions
Do you feel like your teens roll their eyes no matter what you say?
Or maybe your teens talk back to you angrily or don’t respond at all?
It’s frustrating to deal with a moody teenager, especially when you’re just trying to help.
During the teenage years, your children’s hormones go into overdrive. Your teens are likely feeling stressed, irritable, and confused. They’re unsure about how to navigate and express their emotions.
I’m not saying you should tolerate severe disrespect. Boundaries and consequences are crucial to raising a respectful teen.
If you’re wondering how to deal with teenage attitude, it helps to realise that your teens’ behaviour sometimes has little to do with you.
B. Your teen is developing a sense of identity
“I’m not a child anymore!”
Does your teenager like to remind you of this fact?
That’s because teenagehood is a time when children discover who they are and what they love: their personality and passions.
With individuality comes independence. It’s normal for teens to want increased autonomy and to be frustrated with rigid rules, schedules, and expectations.
As your teens discover their identity, remember to show them unconditional love, respect, and support.
(The tips for parenting teens that I’ll share below will help you do exactly that.)
C. Your teen feels powerless
Now you know that teenagers are still learning how to express themselves while also trying to discover their identity.
At the same time, they feel confined by rules and schedules over which they have no control.
It’s no wonder that many teenagers feel powerless!
Micromanaging your teens is like adding fuel to a fire. It only makes the situation worse.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to empower your teen — and raise a more respectful, responsible teen, too.
15 tips for parenting teenagers
Parenting teenagers is tricky, but there are many ways to adjust your parenting style and improve your relationship with your teen.
Let’s explore these 15 tips for how to handle teenagers more effectively:
1. Set rules and boundaries together with your teen
What’s a straightforward way to help your teens feel like they have control over their lives?
Involve them in the rule-setting process.
I’m not saying that you should let your teens dictate unreasonable family boundaries. But you can sit down together to discuss rules — and consequences — that are fair for everyone involved.
When you do this, your teens will see that you respect their opinions and independence. Plus, they’ll be far more likely to keep to the agreed-upon boundaries.
2. Communicate like a parent and a friend
Think about how you converse with your friends for a second.
If they come to you with a problem, do you interrupt and lecture them? Probably not.
I’m guessing that you actively listen to them, then offer advice only when appropriate.
If you want your teens to come to you with their problems, then you need to show them respect. A proven way to maintain open lines of communication is to listen more and speak less.
You’ll still want to give guidance and coaching — just without the excessive lecturing and interrupting.
3. Spend quality time together
I’m sure you’re busy.
It’s not easy to juggle a career, household responsibilities, parenting teens, and self-care. I’m a parent too, so I understand.
But this saying is one that’s good to keep in mind when things are hectic: The present moment is all we ever have.
Don’t let the days race by without spending quality time with your teenager.
You’ll create meaningful memories for years to come, and your teen will know you enjoy spending time together.
Quality time together doesn’t need to be extravagant. For example, you could invite your teen to prepare dinner with you or go on a short walk around your neighbourhood.
4. Avoid talking down to your teen
It’s frustrating when teenagers are disrespectful, but responding with disrespect will harm the relationship.
Maybe your teenager won’t stop playing video games and do his homework.
Or maybe you asked for your teenager’s help around the house, but when you get home, the place is still a mess.
You might feel like saying something along the lines of:
I’m the parent, and you’re the child. So just do what I say!
Teens need to learn to follow rules and respect boundaries, but they also want to become more independent. If you make them feel as if they’re just little kids, they’ll rebel.
So speak to your teen firmly but with respect.
Here’s a quick tip: Change “you” statements into “I” statements.
For example, instead of saying, “You are always so lazy,” try saying, “I feel disrespected when you don’t do your chores as we had agreed.”
5. Let your teen experience the consequences of his/her actions
We all make mistakes sometimes. But when we make the same mistake again and again, it becomes a habit.
How do you help your teenagers learn from their mistakes?
By letting them experience the natural consequences of their actions, as far as possible.
If your teenager knows that you’ll drive her to school anytime she misses the bus, she’ll have little motivation to wake up on time.
The same is true if you petition a teacher to let your teenager retake a test if he gets a bad grade. If you do this repeatedly, he won’t develop the study habits necessary to do well in school.
All parents want to save their kids from pain. But sometimes the best way to teach a life lesson is to let your teens experience the repercussions of their actions.
6. Focus on the things that matter
Does your teenager have a hairstyle you don’t like? Does she gravitate towards fashion choices that make your head spin?
As tempting as it is to try and control your teen’s life, even the most responsible teenagers are discovering their individuality and personality.
So, when it comes to parenting teens, save your limited energy for the things that matter the most in the long run.
7. Don’t have difficult conversations when you’re angry
Imagine the following scene:
Your teen comes home an hour after curfew, with no calls or messages to inform you that she would be late. Your anxiety turns into outrage. You were worried that she was in danger, and she didn’t even answer your phone calls?!
In this scenario, most parents would sit their teens down and immediately start lecturing them about their irresponsible behaviour.
The only problem?
If you do this, your teenager will shut down or become defensive. She’ll be unlikely to engage in a meaningful conversation with you.
Whenever possible, try to have difficult conversations when both you and your teen are calm.
Your teens need to understand what mistakes they made. But it’s always easier to teach a lesson when your own emotions aren’t getting in the way.
8. Support your teen’s interests and passions
Does your teen have a hobby that you don’t understand?
Do you nag your teen to be less distracted and more “productive”?
As long as your teens have reasonable time management skills, do your best to support their passions.
Start by observing what their hobbies and interests are. Listen to their favourite music together with them or let them choose the Friday night movie.
This will show your teens that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know them better — and that is a powerful gift.
9. Eat meals together regularly
The benefits of family mealtimes are indisputable. Research shows that eating as a family:
- Improves academic performance
- Lowers rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse
- Builds resilience and self-esteem
- Improves physical health
- Reduces the likelihood of tobacco use, teenage pregnancy, and substance abuse
What’s more, 80% of teenagers say that family mealtimes are when they’re most likely to talk to their parents. If you want to communicate more with your teens, mealtimes are an ideal opportunity to do so.
This is a simple tip for parenting teens that you shouldn’t skip!
10. Recognise your teen’s good behaviour and habits
I know… you might be thinking that your teen doesn’t display any good behaviour or habits!
It’s easy to criticise your teens, especially when you’re trying to help them develop good habits for lifelong success.
But it’s helpful to take a step back and observe all the positive things your teens do, no matter how small those things might be.
If you notice your teens studying hard on a Friday night or making their bed before school, acknowledge it. Descriptive praise is a proven way to motivate teens.
Even if your teens don’t seem to care about your opinion, rest assured that they actually do.
Teens crave approval from the trusted adults in their lives, but sometimes they give up trying if they think they’re never going to get that approval.
11. Set a positive example for your teen
Your teens are constantly observing what you say and do. So set a good example for them.
If your teens see that you’re committed to personal development, they’ll be more likely to develop positive habits too.
And if your teens observe that you’re kind, respectful, hardworking, and responsible?
That’s right — they’ll be more likely to develop these qualities, too.
Here are some ways to set a positive example for your teens:
- Be generous
- Be grateful
- Embrace challenges
- Take care of your physical and mental health
- Apologise when you’ve made a mistake
12. Don’t compare your teen with others
You know your teens are capable. But when you learn that your neighbour’s children are getting better grades or that your niece won a scholarship to a top-tier university, you might find yourself comparing your teens with them.
But doing this is detrimental to the parent-teen relationship. Plus, comparison hurts your teens’ self-esteem and can even lead to resentment towards you.
Focus on encouraging your teens and following the other parenting tips in this article, and you’ll be on the right track.
13. Stay involved in your teen’s life, but respect his/her privacy
It’s crucial to understand what’s going on in your teens’ lives.
If they’re engaging in harmful behaviour or hanging out with bad company, you’ll want to know so you can guide them to make better decisions.
The best way to keep up with what’s going on in your teen’s life isn’t to read her diary or invade her personal space.
Instead, stay present and engaged with your teens. Communicate with them. Do things with them that they enjoy. Listen to them when they complain or vent their frustrations.
When you show your teenagers that you respect their freedom and privacy, they’ll be more likely to come to you when they have problems.
14. Encourage self-care
It’s important for teens to do their best to learn effectively and get good grades, but it’s also important that they lead a balanced life.
Teach your teenagers that sleep, nutrition, and exercise will improve their quality of life. If they don’t feel good physically, you’ll have a hard time motivating your teens to do anything productive.
Appropriate self-care will also enable them to focus and do more meaningful things with their time.
Help your teens to learn positive ways to cope with stress and anxiety. They’ll then mature into healthy adults who know how to take care of themselves and do things for the benefit of others too. (Here’s a detailed article about how to help teens with anxiety.)
15. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
Finally, remember to show your teens that you’re human, too.
The perfect parent doesn’t exist! It’s okay to make mistakes while parenting your teens.
Rather than pretend like you have everything figured out, demonstrate vulnerability.
Ask for forgiveness when you mess up. Show your teen that life isn’t about perfection, but instead, it’s always about learning and growing.
Parenting teens is hard work, but I’m confident that you’ll do a great job as you apply the tips in this article.
Keep doing your best, and you’ll set your teenagers up for lifelong success and happiness.
Want a step-by-step system to help your teens become motivated and responsible — guaranteed?
Sign up for my online course for parents of teens and get the strategies (and support) you need!