Parenting Tips

How To Parent Today's Teenagers

Good parenting tips are hard to come by. Oh, everyone seems to have parenting advice for you, advice on how to raise teenagers, but it’s not always worthwhile or up to date.

Most folks parent the way they were parented. Um, not always a good choice. But, it's what we do, behaving like the role models we observed in our family system.  

Throughout my career I’ve seen a number of common parenting mistakes, and will share some of them with you now. Plus, I’ll give you some parenting tips that will work, proven parenting techniques based on research and extensive clinical experience.

Couple arguing

This is what you might look like when you argue in front of the kids
. . . from their point of view.

Parenting Tips: Common Mistakes

       1. Treating adolescents like children . . . 

        . . . talking down to them and making them feel small . . .

        expecting your teen to be a little child always under your control

  1. Not allowing your teen to make decisions on his/her own, protecting him/her from making mistakes (ensuring he/she will grow up to be a poor decision maker). Here's one of the most powerful parenting tips: Only by learning from their mistakes can teens become successful.
  2. Encouraging dependency. Note: You want your adolescent to grow up and become an independent person, not someone who will always be dependent upon you. Thus, encouraging independent thought is essential.
  3. Not keeping communication lines open by being critical, hard to please or condescending. Many teens have told me they’ve tried to open up with their parents but they end up getting lectured on what they’ve done wrong . . . they don't get heard . . . so the kids clam up and go away. When a teen stops talking to their parents he/she will find other outlets for sharing their thoughts and feelings. Or they will hold it all inside.
  4. Not listening . . . but lecturing and preaching a sermon, telling, criticizing and blaming, rather than being quiet and letting the teen talk. Some parents do all the talking, then wonder why the kid won't talk to them. Listening and listening well is one of the greatest parenting tips!
  5. Criticizing or humiliating your teen in front of his/her peers, teachers and other people. NEVER chastise your teen or run him/her down in front of others. If you have a bone to pick with your teen, do it in private! Always allow your teen to save face! Don’t plunder his/her self-esteem!
  6. Not spending time with your teen, and not having fun together. Avoiding your teen and spending time doing everything else sends the wrong message. He/she feels you don't value him/her. Of all the parenting tips, this is one you should not forget: find a way to spend time with your teen on a regular basis. There is no substitute for TIME.
  7. Talking about your teen like he/she is not there. If you are in the waiting room at the doctor’s office with your teen, and you find yourself telling another person about your teen’s failures or misadventures, you are only setting your teen up to resent you . . . or to run away! Here's sound parenting advice: Always speak of your teen HIGHLY in the presence of others. Allow your teen some privacy. Avoid openly sharing private information about your teen with strangers.
  8. Trying to make your teen tough by being harsh, mean or cruel (a remnant of an old, militaristic parenting style . . . it doesn’t work. In fact, it often backfires!).
  9. Legislating your teen’s life for him/her, and making him/her a mirror reflection of yourself. Let your teen live his/her own life.
  10. Expecting your teen to adopt your personal beliefs and opinions, and diminishing his ideas and opinions. You are always right and he/she is always wrong.
  11. Encouraging your teen to be the same as other family members, rather than allowing him/her to be different and unique.
  12. Reminding your teen constantly of all the good things you do for him/her. Many parents feel unappreciated and constantly lecture their teens about the endless sacrifices they make on their behalf. Such a practice only creates relationship barriers and spurns resentment. Few parenting tips are as essential as this one. Avoid patting yourself on the back . . . The teen winds up feeling like a burden! Is that what you want?
  13. Making the same mistakes over and over again. Never changing.

My parenting advice is to always remain open to learning new tricks. No child is born with a parenting manual, so most parents must learn how to become effective parents on their own. Adopting one’s own parents parenting style isn’t always best, depending on how effective it truly was. It isn’t easy to become a good parent, but it’s very possible. There are good resources and books readily available.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite parenting tips to help you be a more capable and successful parent to your teenager.

Effective Parenting Tips:

  • Build and Maintain a wonderful relationship with your teen. The quality of your relationship is the single most important factor in determining your kid’s behavior.
  • Don’t lose track of the relationship because you’re busy. Your teen is busy, too – busy trying to grow up, and he/she needs your attention. This is one of the most important tips I give parents in my counseling practice. The teen may act like he/she wants nothing to do with you, but that usually is not true.

  • Seek to improve your relationship throughout time; never rest on your laurels. Relationships are like fly fishing lines . . . fly lines need to be constantly mended. Too much slack in the line, and you can’t detect a strike or know what’s going on in the water.
  • Strive to be a positive role model . . . your behavior is the biggest lesson your child will learn. Your teen will be watching and modeling you, whether you like it or not. Even if you tell the teen not to do as you do, he will in fact copy you, nine out of ten times.
  • Avoid pushing your teen away by acting critical, superior or angry. Teens are repulsed by “know-it-alls.”
  • Use positive child-rearing techniques far more often than aversive forms of punishment.
  • Avoid turning molehills into mountains. Pick your battles carefully.
  • Never get into a power struggle with your teen . . . you will lose.

Remember . . . arguing with a kid is like mud wrestling with a pig. The pig will win and you’ll get dirty.

  • Don’t be too serious; have fun and enjoy life! Your teen will pick up on your positive attitude and try to be like you. Every parent should approach parenting with an optimistic sense of humor. Try these parenting tips with a smile on your face. Greet the world and your teen with an upbeat approach -- you'll be more successful.
  • Avoid nagging and complaining. If your kid did something wrong, then administer an appropriate consequence calmly and patiently . . . and get over it. If he/she throws a fit, fine. He still gets the consequence. Avoid getting angry. Remain in control. He/she will soon learn not to try and manipulate you.
  • Try not to yell. Teens let it go in one ear and out the other.
  • Love your teen, but don’t baby him/her. Spoiling a child only reinforces the wrong things, such as encouraging dependency and creating an attitude problem (the world owes me). Spoiled or over-protected children rarely grow up to be strong, resilient individuals. Tell your teen you love him/her and demonstrate love by being an effective parent.
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In Sum

Parenting an adolescent isn’t easy, but it can be a lot of fun if you follow a few basic guidelines, such as keeping a close relationship with your teenager, allowing him/her to learn from his/her own mistakes and serving as a good role model. Take my parenting advice, if you have fun being a parent, your teen will have fun being your kid and learning from you! I hope you've enjoyed this article on parenting tips. Good luck! If you enjoyed this article on Parenting Tips you may want to see this one on building great relationships. Just click here.


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