Teenagers are often eager to prove their independence as they transition into adulthood. Though parents should be accommodating in letting children make a number of their own decisions, they certainly need to become more involved in matters that are extreme or serious. Perhaps a teen has begun a negative pattern of substance abuse due to the influence of a friend. Maybe there is a bully who is causing undue stress or episodes of social anxiety that are hindering development. Whatever the case may be, parents can do their part to offer alternatives to help an adolescent overcome personal struggles.
Different parenting methods
Many parents will see their own parenting methods as being the best suited for their child. Most parents believe that discipline is important when appropriate, though some will be more strict or lenient on different issues. For instance, a parent may otherwise be fairly hands-off in a teenager’s life, but may insist that he or she obeys a curfew. Other parents can enforce rules when they are not home, for example, certain friends may be allowed to visit under possible conditions.
If rules are violated, such as hosting a house party that leaves the home in disarray, then it is expected that a punishment will follow. How parents determine the use of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement can play a strong role in how a teen responds to discipline. A parent should always stress why certain behavior is appropriate or not appropriate, so that the teen can learn from experience. Social rules must simply be learned in adolescence to be a prepared adult. Of course, some teens will be gregarious and outgoing, while others can be more introverted, but have a special talent.
Signs to watch for
Some view it as cliché, but it often remains true – a teen will often face an instance of peer pressure at some point or another in his or her young life. This is why it is important to discuss expectations with the adolescent as early as possible. Parents can do their part by being honest, open and fair about what a punishment will be if a certain rule is violated. By sticking to this, the adolescent has the opportunity to learn what consequences to expect. With practice through interaction, a parent can often better gauge whether it’s the right time to address a personal issue a teen has or back off and allow him or her some personal space to work it out.
Parents should also make an effort to meet their teen’s friends so that there is a better understanding of why a teen is making certain choices. Parents can ask the teen what they like or enjoy about certain people to get a better idea of why certain individuals are considered friends. Another method is to have the parent who is acting as the supervising adult contact the other parents about the plans that are taking place. This will not allow teens to come up with their own version of events that cannot be substantiated if they are being dishonest. This also serves the important purpose of allowing parents to know where their teens are and what they are doing when they leave the house.
Parents should encourage their teens to find an appropriate peer group, such as one that is centered on an interest. Parents should also encourage their teens to join after school programs or other activities that can prevent them from joining the wrong crowd. Perhaps a teen that prefers energetic activity can find a positive outlet in martial arts.
Some parents can find it helpful to ask a teenager more open ended questions when appropriate. This may include asking if there is any other issue that needs to be mentioned or discussed. A father can have it in his mind that one concern is paramount for his son, but perhaps a recent event has caused a shift in attitude. By leaving the door open for discussions and not leaving any subjects off limits, teens will generally feel more comfortable to discuss what is on their minds.
Another tactic that parents can use is rephrasing what a teen is saying during a conversation. This will improve communication between both parent and child. If a teen shares goals or dreams with a parent, but acts out behaviors that are not in line with them, then this should be brought to his or her attention in a non-judgmental tone. Parents can also help by reminding teens that certain choices are their personal decision and will require their best judgment. Parents can help guide their teens, but they should not feel that they are being encroached upon when it is not appropriate or necessary.
Once certain parenting styles have been established that are effective, these should be continuously implemented to further mold and shape an adolescent’s behavior. Consistency can prove to be powerful in helping an adolescent learn rules and expectations. Yet not properly enforcing certain punishments will cause a teen to be more prone to test limits. Enrolling a teen in a therapeutic boarding school, such as White River Academy, could provide appropriate structure in more extreme and severe cases. To find out more about how our program can best assist your family today, please call 866-520-0905.