In our last blog, Why Teens Behave the Way They Do: 3 Things You Should Know About Adolescent Brain Development, we talked about adolescent brain development and the impacts it has on their behavior. Now that you have a better understanding of why adolescents behave the way they do, the following are 3 strategies that can be helpful when parenting teenagers.
- Acknowledge and validate their emotions
Remember, teenagers are mainly thinking with their emotions since their brains are still developing. Although, they may come across as irrational at times, in order to have a productive conversation with adolescents, it is helpful to first acknowledge and validate their perspective and emotions. This will lessen the intensity of whatever it is they are feeling and they will be more likely to listen to your perspective. Try not to react negatively or feed into their emotions. Your child needs you to remain calm even if they can’t.
- Follow the 80/20 rule
Although your child is seeking independence at this age, they still need you now more than ever. 80% of the time, it is important that you focus on relationship building. For example, spending one on one time playing a game, going for a hike, or going to a fun event (ie: sporting event, concert, etc.) will really help to establish a strong bond between you and your child. Be a cheerleader at one of their activities and make sure you are present in their life as often as you can be. Investing 80% of your interactions on relationship building will really help impact the remaining 20% of the time that you are disciplining them . Although discipline is necessary to assist teens in developing strong values and learn right from wrong, it is important that they still feel loved. Continuing to focus on your bond will help with this.
- Foster healthy risk taking by connecting them to an activity
As indicated in our last blog, adolescents tend to be risk takers since the emotional side of their brain controls a lot of the decisions they make. Unfortunately, some of these risks are unhealthy and dangerous. In order to help teens make safer and smarter choices and to foster healthy risk taking, try connecting them to an activity. A competitive sport or a class that can introduce them to a hobby (ie: photography, art, an instrument, etc.) are two examples of activities that can ground teenagers. Through these experiences, teens will develop more confidence in themselves, have a positive connection with their peers, and develop stronger decision making skills.
Raising a teenager can be challenging and is a work in progress. You are going to have good days and difficult days depending on their mood. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor if you need any help. Sometimes, getting an outsider’s perspective can be valuable and having another positive adult role model in your child’s life can go a long way.