Changing Your Parenting Style
Parents typically use the same parenting methods as their parents did. Even those who vowed, “I’ll never do that to my teens,” often fall back on imitating what their parents did. The world is always changing though. Teens experience much more today than their parents did back in their teen days. Things are different and teens are changing constantly. How do you, as parents, keep up?
You need to adjust. Parents can sometimes be stubborn and refuse to change their parenting style. Adjusting from controlling to coaching your teen doesn’t mean surrendering your core values. It doesn’t mean throwing in the towel and giving up. It means you are meeting your teen at their level and respecting their individuality while keeping your base standards.
Parents who are stubborn and unwilling to adjust end up pushing away their teens. This often leads to a rebellious teenager. There should be rules and boundaries that must be met and maintained. Your teen should not be walking all over you. Adjusting your parenting style to be relevant to their world NOW will greatly impact them in the long run. They’ll be more likely to lean on you when they need help and they might even open up and discuss their life issues with you.
Parents, stay engaged with your teens! Every parent needs to know what’s happening in their child’s life.
A New Way to Talk
The communication style of commanding, used when your teen was a young child, won’t work well as they grow into adolescent teens. Stop lecturing and start discussing and listening to your teen. Modifying your presentation doesn’t change the message’s content or the messenger’s values.
Teens Fight for Their Independence
Most parents wait too long to start introducing privileges and responsibilities to their teens. It’s hard to give your teens freedom, but also protect them from danger as they already know they need to test out and adjust to the world they will have to survive in. When letting your 10-13-year-old child attend sleepovers, make sure they are not unattended in their friends’ homes. Statistics show that preteens experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sexual experimentation and as a result, pick these habits up when alone with their friends. Give your teens freedom, but give it to them slowly. Please don’t do it in areas threatening their safety and future. The preteen or “tween” years are very impressionable.
Many parents think they can protect their teens by sheltering them. Don’t fall into the trap of spend little time preparing themselves for the real world because they aren’t in danger now. You can only keep your teen son or daughter isolated for so long. Every teen will go out into the big world and find a job, go to college, or start a family. Parents need to prepare their teens for that next step. When you taught your kid to swim, you started them out in the shallow end and gradually increased their exposure until they were ready to swim. It can be easier that way and keep your relationship in good terms.
Adjust Your Style
One way to adjust your style is that instead of just telling your teens what to do, have discussions with them. Try to spend time working out the practical applications of the truths you have taught them. Instead of lecturing, ask questions. When you ask questions, you convey a powerful positive message to them that they must begin thinking independently and that you are treating them with respect. Asking questions makes them feel valued at the most devaluing stage of their lives. It empowers them to start asking questions, asking for your input, and maybe even bring up the negative things their peers may ask them to be involved in.
The answers you get to your questions will help you identify areas in which you may need to adjust or strengthen your teaching. Do not be judgmental or reactionary. If they are a teen, you have already taught them all you will teach them about your values; now affirm and guide them toward what is right. If I’m counseling a young person and they give a negative answer, I say something like, “That’s interesting.” I don’t say, “That’s wrong.” I then keep the conversation going (with more questions) and try to guide them rather than smother them. They’ll often come around to the right decision — based on the values they’ve been taught — if it is discussed openly and without condemnation.
Adjusting to your teen’s age and maturity is like hitting a moving target. It’s not something you can do just once. As they grow and mature and face new challenges, you must keep changing along with them. The relationship is far more critical than minor issues. Don’t violate your principles; focus on what matters most and set aside the rest. They say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but don’t wait until your teen spins out of control to make the needed changes. Engage with your teen now, and make any changes or adjustments to improve your relationship with them. Prepare them for the day they will be out on their own.
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Wolf Creek Academy helps its students find their God-given purpose and identity to become a better version of their previous selves. We do this by focusing on building relationships and calling out behavioral issues as they happen, and working on them. We create an individualized therapeutic plan and work on it daily in an environment of love. We purposely utilize adventure, unique experiences, and healthy fun to enhance the therapeutic environment and build self-confidence and a sense of identity that will help them find success now and for a lifetime!
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