Hi, my name is Bayanda, and I’m a teen mom. Yes, we are deep into the teen years, and we’re surviving!
The one thing about motherhood is that nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for the different stages of your child’s life. However, I know that you have to tweak your parenting skills if you want to keep up with your teen. Here are 10 tips on raising teens.
Don’t expect the worst
Teens get a bad rap. Most parents approach this phase with a lot of negative energy. And just like most things in life, your approach will determine the results. Unfortunately, that kind attitude will set you and your child up for years of unhappiness and misery. So we need to work on our approach. Negative expectations have the potential to promote the behaviour that we fear the most.
Don’t give up
Okay, I know your child has changed. Yes, they’re probably moodier than when they were young. They may not want to talk to you as often as they used to, but don’t give up. You will get those one-word answers and minimal eye contact, but keep trying. Now don’t be annoying. Please back off when you need to. But don’t ever stop trying. They may act like they don’t need you, but they are still children. In fact, they need you now more than ever before.
Don’t take things personally
One of our significant triggers as moms is that we take things personally. We often feel personally offended by our children’s “misbehaviour” or conduct, especially in their teens. Teens will test boundaries. They may spend all their time locked up in their room, but remember that it’s not about you.
On the same note, you need to set clear boundaries. Give your teen the freedom to express themselves, but it must always be done with respect.
Model the right behaviour
Teens learn how to behave by watching their parents. It’s simple, really, but I know it’s not easy. Show your teen how to deal with stress in positive ways. If you choose to yell when you’re frustrated, they will do the same. We need to model the kind of behaviour we want to see from our kids.
Evaluate your discipline style
This is an excellent time to re-evaluate our discipline style. But firstly, we must remember that discipline is about teaching and not punishment or control. To encourage your teen to do well, we need to have clear discussions about what is expected, acceptable, and unacceptable and then set consequences.
Avoid ultimatums because your teen might interpret them as a challenge. It’s essential to explain your decisions. So instead of telling your child to go to bed by a specific time, explain why it’s crucial for them to get enough sleep. And also, avoid setting rules that your teen can’t possibly follow.
Yes, we are not perfect, and sometimes we get too absorbed in our work, miss important events, and spend too much time on our phones. Let’s be intentional about spending quality one-on-one time with our teens as often as we can. You might get some resistance, but when you get the opportunity, try to make the most of it. I love picking up my son from school, sometimes he’s too tired to talk, but we’ve had some of the best conversations on our way home.
Any form of physical touch is critical for our teens. Even a quick rub on the shoulder when you walk past your teen will do. Hugs or any other form of physical affection release oxytocin, which helps calm a child and make them feel safe.
You are not doing your teen any favours by not giving them responsibilities. Responsibilities and routines give them a great sense of security. If even if you get some resistance, you need to stick to your guns with this one. Remember that we are raising adults that will eventually need to fend for themselves.
Our kids are our equals, yes, we may be older than them, but they’re human. They deserve the same amount of respect that we demand from them. By respect, I don’t mean that our teens should do as they please, but treat them the way you want to be treated. How often are you yelling at your kids? Do you use a sarcastic tone? Talk to your children the way you would like people to talk to you.
Respect their privacy. I know it’s not easy, but your teen needs to know that you trust them. So please stay away from their phones. You need to trust that you’ve instilled the right values in your child. But of course, for safety reasons, you need to know where they’re going and who they’re going with, for example.
Let go of control
Your teen is not your baby anymore. I know that may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it is what it is. Letting teens make their own decisions will serve them best in the long run, within certain limits, of course. Decision-making is an essential skill teens must develop before they leave the nest.
If you’re too controlling, you may breed rebellion. Not because they’re bad kids, but they need to gain a sense of control of their lives. Healthy, self-disciplined, motivated teenagers have a strong sense of control over their lives.
And finally, make sure that your teen is getting enough sleep. Teens need between 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep affects your mood and, ultimately, your mental health. Mental health disorders like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder have routinely been linked to poor sleep.
Raising teens can be a pleasant experience, but we need to intentionally tweak our parenting skills if we want to have a good relationship with our kids. Are you parenting a teen at the moment? Would you mind sharing some tips in the comments?