Is my teen crazy?
Why is my teen so moody?
How much attitude is too much attitude?
There are loads of parenting tips and parenting advice out there about teens but how do you know what will work for your family? How can you be an effective parent to your teen?
My Tween/Teen Story
There are some things that even the best parenting advice can’t prepare you for… Like what happened to me one night as I tucked my 10-year-old into bed and kissed her goodnight. “Ahhhhh,” I thought, as things sure are easier now that bedtime stories don’t go on forever and I can just talk about my daughter’s day when I tuck her in. How blissful it is that we are not at a communicating stage with my tween, going on to becoming a teen!
The next night, I came into her room to tuck her in…”GET OUT!” she shouted. I was stunned… I asked if she was okay. “Mom, just leave me ALONE!”
What happened? What did I do? Where did my sweet girl go? She didn’t go anywhere – she just had become a tween. Literally overnight!
What Is Happening To My Sweet Child?
Effective parenting comes from understanding that there are a TON of changes going on with tween and teen children. Physical, hormonal, emotional, and neurological. I’m not just a parent coach who teaches effective parenting tips but a mom who is living with two teen girls. I KNOW how hard it is and I KNOW how to make parenting easier! And I teach practical parenting skills to my clients.
What Is Adolescence, Anyway?
Here’s how The Cleveland Clinic describes teens:
“Adolescence is the period of developmental transition between childhood and adulthood. It involves changes in personality, as well as in physical, intellectual and social development. During this time of change, teens are faced with many issues and decisions.”
As a parent coach, I have learned that building a solid foundation for my clients is essential before teaching parenting tips and methods that work to nip the unwanted teenage behaviors in the bud. Understanding your teen is important and communicating with your teen about the changes they are growing through is the first step.
4 Ways Your Tween/Teen Is Changing
This is the obvious part. We can see how our teens’ bodies are changing with the onset of puberty. Sexual development, body shape, and menstruation. This may begin for girls as early as ten years old. Speaking openly about changes is important. For girls, I like the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You. For girls and boys, It’s Perfectly Normal is an another good choice. Literature is an excellent way to open communication about these important issues (read the books yourself before handing them to your child). Be involved. Attend a game if your teen is in a sport or take your teen to an event. This is just an occasional treat that, even if he doesn’t say so, means a lot to your teen (even if they act like they hate it).
According to Harvard Health, the adolescent brain dumps adrenal stress hormones, sex hormones, and growth hormone into the body. This makes complete sense for the shifting moods, increased risk-taking, and apparent emotional instability.
The best way to start the conversation about these changes is by beginning with a story about YOU and your life. Be interesting. This gives teens a break from constantly thinking about themselves.
Is your teen overly sensitive or increasingly impulsive? Are they trying different clothing or speaking styles (“Like, you totally get it, right?”)? Has your teen become less confident of himself or feeling self-conscious?
You may notice mood swings or your child is suddenly interested in the opposite sex. Well, this is all very normal and an indication of healthy development. Be available for your teen at times they are more likely to talk (car rides, bedtime, dinner time).
The teenage brain is still developing and will continue to develop until about age 25. Yup! 25 years of age! The teenage years and young adult years are essential to the development of the frontal cortex of the brain. Simply put, this is the part of the brain that controls thinking, decision-making, and planning.
In teens, this part of their brain is not yet fully developed. So, when your teen has trouble making a decision (even if it’s as simple as what to eat for dinner), or trouble with speak clearly and fluently – that is why. What can you do about it? The best advice is to read, date your partner, discuss current events, and ask your teen for his opinion. Be a model. Disagree respectfully while asking questions rather than attempting to convince.
Ready for the good news?
Teens today are healthier and more prosperous than ever before. Education levels are improving as college attendance rates continue to grow. Teens are more involved than ever before in community service, which has been a huge factor in protecting against school dropout and teenage pregnancies.
Everyday Common Worries About Teens
- Today’s fast food culture plus teenage access to meals without parents equals poor nutrition for many of today’s teens.
- Teen pregnancies, although dropping in rates, still remain high.
- Smoking (vaping) is on the rise from the 1990’s.
- Alcohol and drugs (currently the opioid crisis has been deemed a “national emergency” by our current administration).
- Sexual activity (pornographic material is more available than ever thanks to mobile/digital media).
Parenting Advice vs. Survival
I have found through my years that many of my clients have a hard time thinking about parenting advice or parenting tips… They’re thinking about survival, or how to survive just another day with their teenagers’ behaviors.
Teenagers have a tendency to act (and feel) as though their parents don’t “get them,” which causes frustration in many of the parents I coach. In fact, many parents get anxious about their teens’ utmost disrespect for parental authority. The discipline that once worked well isn’t working at all anymore…
Top Three Major Teen Parenting Tips
# 3. Unplug – No, really, UNPLUG! When your teen talks, put that phone/tablet/computer/etc. down! Do NOT pick it up, even if it makes a noise or vibrates. Actually, just turn it off. You need to model good communication skills, respect, and set an expectation for your teen’s behaviors with others.
# 2. Trust – Yup, you’ve gotta trust your teen. Trust that when they fall, they can get back up. Trust that they can say “no” to peer pressure. Trust they heard you when you set your expectations. Trust they will do the WRONG things and still grow up to be okay.
And now for the number one Parenting Tip to help you and your teen survive the teen years. It’s cheap, easy, and you can do it TONIGHT:
# 1. Eat Dinner Together At The Dinner Table
– studies show that when families eat together on a regular basis (without TV or other devices), these children grow up to be more successful and happier than the kids who didn’t. So, grab some takeout or make a meal, but eat it together and apply the parenting tips above to make your teens years fantastic!
Okay, okay. So what if you do all that and your teen is still unruly and argumentative? I’ve got something for YOU!