Parenting a teenager requires a brand new set of skills. Those tricks that served you well in the early years won’t cut it now your child has a full vocabulary and her own set of house keys (with the possible exception of bribery). The good news is that these skills are easily learned.
Here are five common traps when you’re parenting a teen, and some handy hints to avoid them:
1. Treating them like they’re still a child.
After infancy, the teenage years are the second most risky developmental period in your child’s life. Once puberty gains momentum, dramatic growth spurts and rapid cognitive development kick in alongside significant changes in their social environment, such as transition to high school. Emotions are heightened in the teenage years and risk taking behaviours increase.
Your job is to provide your teenager with age-appropriate opportunities to develop and grow, push up against boundaries, try things, fail and get back up again. In other words, let go a little. Invest some trust in your teenager and give him the opportunity to do the right thing. Get comfortable with handing over the kitchen and eating a possibly inedible meal. Let them fail to study for the maths test and face the consequences – it’s all part of the critical learning experiences needed to set your child up for adulthood.
2. “Checking out” because they’re already an adult.
Don’t let go too much, though. Around the time your child turns 15, you will likely have experienced that one friend who is always around but you have never met their parents. Or the teenager who you know, thanks to your child’s enthusiastic telling of anecdotes, is allowed to do anything they like.