You play an important part in your teen’s development. She learns by watching you. She forms decision-making skills and responsibility through the boundaries you set. She relies on you but needs a type of support that encourages independence.
While there are many ways to be a good parent, and honor your parenting values and your teen’s unique needs, most teens will benefit from parents who include the following skills and habits into their approach.
1. An open mind.
Be open and curious about what is going on for your teen. Practice listening to understand, rather than to relate or problem-solve. When she opens up, remind yourself to step into her shoes, imagine what life is like for her. Show a genuine interest in your teen’s life, rather than talking about her behavior or reverting to “when I was your age…” stories. You will learn so much about your teen. She will feel your support and appreciate your willingness to understand.
Your teen learns by watching you. If you practice self-care, she is more likely to do the same. Plus, self-care keeps you physically and emotionally balanced. When you are taking care of your needs and giving yourself time to relax or enjoy your hobbies and interests, you will be better able to control your reactions and respond to your teen from a place of calm and clarity.
3. Clarity and consistency.
As much as she may push back, your teen needs structure. In order to develop decision-making skills and resilience, she also needs to experience natural and logical consequences. When creating rules and consequences, start by determining your non-negotiables. Be willing to talk with your teen about the rules that are negotiable and involve her in creating logical consequences. Once established, make the rules and consequences simple and crystal clear. Be consistent. Follow through with the consequences you set.
Your teen is in a constant state of change. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting will not work. It is essential to meet her where she is. Always take time to reflect on her growth and development. Be open to shifting your language, approach, rules, and consequences to fit her needs and her maturing levels of responsibility.
When you take time to learn what is going on for your teen, adjust your parenting to fit her changing needs, and remain mindful of your attitude and tone, you can trust that you are laying a strong foundation from which she can develop healthy independence. Parenting from a place of trust and calm reflects on your teen. She will develop a deeper sense of security and trust in herself. On the other hand, if you parent from fear and worry, your teen will pick up on that and be more susceptible to experiencing the same fear and worry.
When the day-to-day is busy and stressful, it’s easy to get caught in the moment and lose sight of your teen’s journey. Parent towards the future you envision for her. Try not to allow the stress of the moment to pull you into defensiveness, disappointment, or anger. Take a big-picture perspective and find the teachable moments that are inherent in any challenge.