Positive parenting, also known as gentle guidance or positive discipline, is considered to be an alternative parenting approach to traditional punitive authoritarian based strategies.
Keeping in mind the change of mindset from a focus of punishing of bad behavior to the encouragement of good behavior we need to also consider the relationship between parents and teenagers. So many things are happening in our teen’s life, many of which seem to take our child further away from us. It can be difficult for parents to keep their balance while navigating so much new territory. Some parents hold on tight to their teenager with over controlling strategies while others simply let go and allow their teen to do whatever he or she wishes. Neither of these strategies is good for the parent or child. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when parenting teenagers.
1. Understand the importance of the parent-child relationship
When it comes to teenagers, every parent faces the dilemma of how to balance freedom and appropriate monitoring.
First, even though your child will likely demand and expect more independence, understand your child still craves the security of having someone who cares and is looking out for them. It is natural for teens to want to spend more time with friends and form intense relationships outside the family. This does not mean they no longer need you, however.
Remember there is no cookie cutter approach to parenting a child at any age. Each child has a different level of maturity and grows up in a different social context. What is appropriate in one context may be inappropriate in another, for example, allowing a 15-year-old girl to visit friends until late in the evening unsupervised may be safe in some communities but not others. You may or may not trust her friends. All factors need to be taken into consideration when making decisions about what’s okay for your child.
Even if you trust your child, it is still important to know where they are and who they are with. Researchers have found, in a large, national sample, that teens whose parent’s engaged in little to no monitoring of their activities had a higher risk to develop depression. The data likely reflects the quality of the relationship between the parent and child. A poor relationship with parents can lead to unnecessary stress and later depression. Even though your teen needs independence, the parent-child relationship remains a crucial aspect of their emotional and mental health.
2. Find a balance, don’t invite rebellion by being overly controlling
- You can find a balance between monitoring and allowing more freedom.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about where they are going and who they are with.
- Set reasonable and appropriate times to be home.
- Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
3. Plan regular times to be together
- Try to have meals together as much as your schedules allow.
- If possible, be there when your child gets home from school.
- Find enjoyable ways to spend time together and allow your relationship to mature and evolve.
4. Take an interest in what they do
- Adolescence is a fascinating time for identity development. This is when we begin to discover what it is we love to do and think about future interests and careers. Your child will benefit from your encouragement and positive feedback.
5. Let them know they can talk to you
- Adolescence can be a confusing time. Your child may need to talk about relationships with friends or members of the opposite sex. Your advice or at least your interest is important to your child even though they may not say so. Let your child know you are available to talk, and if he or she isn’t comfortable talking to you, it may be beneficial to find a therapist your child can talk to.
Some parents expect the teenage years to be difficult but this does not have to be true. As our children grow up, we are presented with the opportunity to become both a parent and a friend to our child. Enjoy the development of more meaningful and adult conversations you can have with your teenager. If you and your teenager are having difficulties in your relationship, it is important to stop and take the time to discover what might be going wrong. If you are having trouble connecting with your teen, a therapist can help you navigate your relationship as it develops.
Dr. Gerald Brown is a therapist practicing in Statesville and Cornelius, North Carolina. He is within a short travel distance from Davidson, Morrisville, Huntersville, and North Charlotte.
If you would like to learn more you are welcome to call and book an appointment or fill out my contact form and click send.