Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Stay More Aware of Your Teen

The teenage years can be very confusing in a young person's life. Needless to say it may be just as confusing for parents. Somehow your young children are now engaging in new things, demanding more freedom, and growing into more adult-like behaviors. Something you may not know, is that this is perfectly normal. The teen years are going to change no matter what. It is up to you to decide whether that change will be for the better or worse. The one word that is constantly going to come up is compromise. However compromising has boundaries, just as anything else should.

Teens are really searching for freedom, a certain independence and privacy that is completely different from just a few years prior. As parents, this is a scary thought, because of all of the dangers that are lurking in the teenage world. One way to give a little bit of freedom is to encourage your teen to participate in something that interests them. Of course you have to compromise, and only allow activities that are good. Healthy activities usually mean school, clubs, sports, or volunteering. Lets be honest, some times our children want to be rock stars, professional skateboarders, or internet programmers. While the unmonitored world of garage bands, skateboarding, and internet "hacking" might seem like the wrong fit, there is a healthy way to stay aware these activities. By backing your children, and supporting their interests, you are more able to monitor their location, friends, and environment. Instead of making an activity "untouchable" and thereby more appealing, support your teen's interests. This will lead to a better relationship, and then the values you taught them over the years will definitely have more bearing. With support of a certain activity comes more respect for your rules. Rules may include: finish your homework, be home by 8, and of course always say no to things that are morally wrong. Supporting your teens' interests can be a great way to share something with them and give them the independent feeling they yearn for.

When becoming more aware of your teen, being involved is key. Attend school meetings, participate in parent teacher conferences, ask questions, and give them responsibility. Match rewards with good behavior and also use the appropriate amount of discipline. When discipline is necessary, don't take anything personally. Discipline doesn't mean physical force and doesn't mean time out. Discipline is used to simply convey a message of disappointment and is used to teach lessons. Doing these things will only help conversation and help you to be more aware. You must be understanding that your teen is going through abrupt changes and their life is filled with social encounters, awkwardness, loss of coordination, and even acne. This is all happening when your teens are at the most vulnerable time in their lives. If they do not feel like they are fitting in at home, and are constantly being pushed in harmful ways, they may try to fit in anywhere. 'Anywhere' can tend to turn into some pretty bad situations.
Being supportive, understanding, and realizing that your teen can make mistakes are great ways to become closer/more aware of your teen.
Being a parent of a teen can be tough. Even if you are doing a great job you cannot be sure that other parents are doing their part. A great way to stay more aware of your teen is by communicating with other parents and forming healthy relationships. You definitely do not want your teen going to a friend's house that endorses partying and loose behavior. If you communicate that you do not want your children engaging in those activities, parents might be more willing to keep a better eye on what friends are doing. Forming a community and getting to know your teen's environment are great ways to become a 'more aware parent.'

The teenage years for your children can be hard for everyone. Becoming aware of your teenager is very important and can help your teen be more prepared for adulthood. Mistakes are going to happen, on both sides. However it is important to to treat each situation with respect, and discipline should never be a personal matter. Be engaged in school functions, and be sure to communicate with other parents. Becoming more aware of your teen can help you and your teen avoid bad situations, and also can relate to a healthier, happier life for your teen

This guest post was contributed by Alyssa Jacobs who writes for Acne Centre.

Image Citation: photostock /

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