10 Tips on Surviving The Teenage Years

10 Tips on Surviving The Teenage Years

I am a single mother of two teenagers, a 19 year old daughter and an 18 year old son. They were such sweet and obedient little kids, I had no idea what I was in for. I was one of those mothers that believed my kids wouldn’t change into those “difficult teenagers” you hear other parents complaining about. Boy was I naïve! My daughter who used to laugh at my jokes, follow me around, and wanted to be just like me when she grew up disappeared. In her place, came an irritable, sarcastic, self absorbed, and sometimes mean teenager, who thought most everything I said and did was embarrassing. And my son, who was a total cuddle bug and only wanted to be with me, acted like I was hurting him when I gave the occasional sign of affection, stayed in his room with the door closed, and rarely wanted to do anything with me.

Parenting is one of the best things I have ever done, but it is also one of the hardest things. Parenting teenagers will push you to discover, surpass, and wave goodbye to your limits.

10 Tips on How to Survive the Teenage Years

  1. Educate Yourself– Read articles about teenagers. Remember your struggles. Expect mood changes and be prepared for more conflict as he or she matures. Knowing what is coming will help you cope better. The more you know, the better you can prepare.
  2. Engage your teen in a dialogue, when it is a relatively calm time. Don’t just keep telling him what he should or shouldn’t be doing. They will instantly shut down. I found that while driving was a good time to try and engage with my teenagers.
  3. Don’t ask too many questions at once. They feel like you are interrogating them and get easily annoyed. I try to ask open ended questions, such as: “Name 3 things that were good about today” or “How do you wish today had gone differently for you.
  4. Be open to what they say. When you get your teen talking, don’t be surprised if they say some things you don’t like. Just be open to what they’re telling you instead of being judgmental. You can tell them you don’t approve of something without attacking them. If they feel comfortable talking about serious things, they’ll be more likely to come to you if they have a problem.
  5. Support their interests. Even if it’s not something you know you know a lot about, show up to their activities, volunteer at their schools, and be present in their day to day lives.
  6. Give them their space. When they ask you to leave them alone, honor their wishes. This is one that I struggle with. The more I insist that I want to talk, the angrier they become
  7. Set expectations. Teens might act unhappy about the expectations their parents place on them. Still, they usually understand and need to know that their parents care enough about them to expect certain things such as good grades, acceptable behavior, and sticking to the house rules. If parents have appropriate expectations, teens will likely try to meet them. Without reasonable expectations, your teen may feel you don’t care about him or her.
  8. Make plans with them that involve going outside. With teenagers attached to their phones, it’s hard to compete for their attention. Ask them to take a walk, bike ride, go to the beach, play a sport or go camping. This will get them off their phones and you can enjoy some quality time with them outdoors
  9. Respect teens privacy. To help your teen become a young adult, you’ll need to grant some privacy. If you notice warning signs of trouble, then you can invade your child’s privacy until you get to the heart of the problem. But otherwise, it’s a good idea to back off. In other words, your teenager’s room, texts, e-mails, and phone calls should be private. You also shouldn’t expect your teen to share all thoughts or activities with you at all times. Of course, for safety reasons, you should always know where teens are going, when they’ll be returning, what they’re doing, and with whom, but you don’t need to know every detail.
  10. Love unconditionally. Teenagers often start “trying on” different looks and identities, and they become very aware of how they differ from their peers, which can result in episodes of distress and conflict with parents. But if they know that you embrace all of their different identities, it will give you an opportunity to embrace who your teenager is becoming.

As your children progress through the teen years, you’ll notice a slowing of the highs and lows of adolescence. And, eventually, they’ll become independent, responsible,communicative young adults.

Source: Kids Health from Nemours

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years working in Community mental Health. I currently Supervise the Behavioral Health Benefit for an insurance company. I speak publicly on issues that affect mental health in the workplace.

3 Comments

  • Nicole B.

    Great advice! I have a 20yr old stepson and 18yr old son. 20 jas never been emotional due to his developmental disabilities, but 18 struggles with anxiety and depression. He was an easy kid until he became a teen. High School was the beginning of the troubles.

    Anyway, I’m back in toddler mode now, but I can attest to your advice being spot on.

    Excellent article!

  • Mary

    I love # 1-Remember your struggles. Ugh! They were emotional, and stressful, and lonely, and confusing. Good to remember that’s what they are going through too.Thanks for for the great tips and the hilarious tweets 🙂

Leave a Reply to Nicole B. Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *