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It is just part of parenting teens to feel shut out and worthless as a parent, right?
I know I do on a regular basis. Not because the boys tell me I'm worthless, but because I know I could be doing so much better when it comes to raising them. There are so many things that I struggle with, especially with our youngest. So far, I think I'll be able to survive the teenage years with my youngest, but who knows, I still have at least 4 more years with him in the house.
Most children (remember, teens are still kids) need a firm parental hand on their shoulder. While most of the time they will make good decisions based on what you have taught them through the years, other times they will struggle endlessly with peer pressure. The first thing that you need to do as a parent is to take a step back and then make your move.
9 Ways You Can Survive the Teenage Years
Take A Step Back and Let Them Make Mistakes
Parenting teens is no easy task. The first thing that you need to do, no matter how angry you are, is to take a small step back and realize what is really happening with your teen. To do this, you need to realize what they are facing. They are facing peer pressure, constant rejection from friends and are usually struggling with their self image. They are under a lot of stress and do not need you to add to it.
No matter what you see when you take your step back; do not immediately react to it. Instead, you need to think about the mistake and pull them aside when they are having trouble and talk to them in a frank yet understanding way. For example, if you suspect that your child is doing drugs, sit down with them, tell them what you think is happening and offer to help them to get them back on track. No accusations, no pressure, just you being a parent.
Run Away, Join the Circus
Okay, not really, though it's EXTREMELY TEMPTING at times. There are times, as a parent, that you need to “get away” and have time for just you, or you and your spouse. A lot of times we're so stressed over making sure the kids do the right thing, that we lose focus on things we're working on. You can't focus on your kids 24/7. It's not possible. Especially if you want to survive the teenage years in one piece.
But if you do end up running away and joining the circus, can you take me with you? Just for a weekend?
Be There for When They Need You
If you want your child to talk with you, then give them a reason to trust you. Keep their confidence. Ask them if what they tells you is something that needs to stay between the two of you or if it is okay to share it with anyone, including your spouse or even a counselor. Honor their wishes.
Of course, like everything, there are exceptions. If they have talked about self-harm, suicidal thoughts, etc. Their safety does trump secrets. If they come to you saying that they are worried about a friend's safety, hear them out and talk to that friend's parents. Some kids don't feel they have an adult they could talk to in tough times, be that adult.
Talk About Fair Consequences Together
This is one thing I have the HARDEST time with. I often blame it on the way I was raised, however, I'm learning and evolving (at least I think I am). If your child has done something that breaks a law or a rule in your family, address that issue. Brainstorm for solutions together. Empower your teen to be responsible for every action they take — or fails to take — in their life. Remember, you were a teen once, you rebelled, and that's fine for them to do, to a point. But they also need to understand there is consequences for their rebel ways sometimes.
Stand Up For Them When They Are Right
I can't tell you how many times I've read stories on facebook where parents immediately proclaim that their teen (or younger child) is in the wrong and disrespectful for their opinion on a matter or how they voice their displeasure about how someone treats them. Again, I want to blame this on how we were raised, but that's not fair to kids today, or of the future. I'm guilty of it, I know I will say that one of my boys are disrespecting an elder for how the talk to them or give their opinion. Don't be afraid to stand up to people in your family either. You can't stand up to only certain people for your child, you have to stand up to EVERYONE for your child.
Positive Reinforcement Does Wonders, Even For Teenagers
I'm not talking charts and little candies either. That won't work with teenagers anymore. It especially won't work if you've never used positive reinforcement in the past. Just like all things, starting a new way to do things, will take time. It's been said, that to develop a new routine it takes 25 days, or maybe it was 21, oh well, 25 sounds better because it's longer. Anyway, it takes at least 21 days of doing the same thing day in and day out to get your mind out of the old mindset and into the new. Same thing goes with positive reinforcement, only don't think of it as days in this case, think of it as being consistent with the reinforcement.
Look, I'm FAR from consistent, I've talked about that on my facebook page a few times. But I'm trying to get better at it. Instead of just saying no, or yelling, or even throwing stuff (yes, I'm a thrower BIG TIME). I stop, think about if the situation has happened before and I try and remember what I did and if it was successful. If it was, I repeat. If it wasn't, I change what my response is and make note of it for next time.
Set Ground Rules & Stick to them
I remember when I first became a mom. I had these high hopes for how I was going to be a positive parent and never ever let my anger get the best of me and I was never to going spank, yell, ground, or break any of my kids things. That went right out the window when my oldest turned 5 and I just gave birth to my youngest. His aggression just grew. So I had to punish differently with him. I'm still learning, but ground rules & being firm with them is key. Consistency is golden!
Take Breaks and Have a Little Fun with Them
Hang out on the couch with them, join in on their favorite video game, watch a few YouTube videos together, or whatever. You could even make a day and go to a local amusement or theme park and get to know them all over again. While you're waiting in long lines for the rides you can talk about whatever. Take time like this to reconnect and learn about each other. Don't talk about things that upset you about them, it's not the time nor the place for that. It's the time to have fun and enjoy your day together.
Above All, Embrace WHO They Are as a Human
Every human is different, even those super identical twins. Their fingerprints and thoughts are still different. Each child we raise, is different and deserves to be embraced for those differences. They have their own thoughts, feelings, outlooks on life, and above all they know how they want to live their life. Embrace that, don't try and change that. However, just like everything, there is a limit. Of course if there is a destructive path they are going down, reinforce that there are consequences to their actions and help guide them back on a positive path.