Considering the great changes that teens are going through, parents may want to know expert tips and suggestions for how to best support their teen. Here is a list of 20 tips on parenting teens to help you and your teen during the adolescence years.
Teen Development Tips
1. Assist your teen in making healthy choices. What’s important is not only guiding your teen to make healthy choices, but also encouraging them to make decisions on their own.
2. Discuss the changes that come on with puberty. Remember that boys and girls go through puberty at different ages. For girls, they will be done with puberty around 15 or 16 years old. However, boys might still be experiencing great physical changes as a result of puberty. When a teen knows what to expect, they can have greater resiliency through the changes that are to come.
3. Support your teen’s independence. Adolescence is a time for teens to develop more and more independence from the family. Events at school, with friends, and associated with extra-curricular activities put teens in touch with the larger world more often. It’s okay to let your teen explore the world and learn to be independent.
4. Encourage your teen to exercise. Help keep your teen active by promoting their participation in sports. You might also have them do chores at home that are more physical, such as mowing the lawn or walking the dog. Regular exercise (along with healthy eating) will help keep your teen in top physical as well as psychological health.
5. Model what it means to be a responsible worker. Your teen may not be working now, but in a few years, they might be. If you’re a working parent, you can model for your teen what it means to have work responsibilities, to remain respectful with coworkers (even when they are hard to like), and to meet expectations of the job.
6. Talk to your teen about what it will be like away from home. Sooner or later your teen may move out. Whether it’s for college or simply to feel more independent, your adolescent may decide to leave the nest. However, before they do, it will be important for them to know about financial management, time management, and other independent living skills.
Mental Health Tips
7. Be honest when talking about sensitive topics. When parenting teens, difficult topics will come up. Drugs, drinking, smoking, and sex are hot topics for teens. They’re also topics that might make a teen feel embarrassed or shy. When discussing these issues, be real and down to earth. Don’t be around the bush. remember to be direct but authentic. Your teen will appreciate it.
8. Pay attention to any changes in behavior in your teen. Due to the significant changes your teen is going through, you might notice changes in your adolescent. Ask direct questions about your teen’s mental and emotional health. When your teen sees that you feel comfortable talking about mental health, they will likely feel comfortable as well.
9. Praise your teen. Whenever possible, compliment your teen on their achievements and unique skills.
10. Show your teen affection. Physical touch is just as important as praise and verbal expressions of love. Don’t be shy to hug your teen and even cuddle with them!
11. Respect your teen’s opinion. You may be the parent but your teen is learning to find his or her own way in the world. By respecting their opinion, you help your teen gain confidence in who they are.
12. Limit your teen’s online use. While the Internet and social media sites can be enriching, too much time spent online can impair a teen’s emotional health. Parenting teens requires setting limits, and this includes your teen’s online use.
13. Support your teen’s thoughts and ideas about the future. Many teens will begin to look ahead to college and life after high school. Although you might have strong ideas for your teen’s future, your adolescent might also have ideas of their own. If you can, find a compromise so that your teen’s wishes and desires for life after high school are not minimized.
Social Health Tips
14. Show interest in your teen’s school life. In fact, it will be supportive to show interest in all aspects of your teen’s life. When parents are interested in what their teen is going through, adolescents feel seen and understood.
15. Respect your teen’s opinion. As much as possible, take into account their thoughts and feelings when parenting teens. It’s important to teens to know that you’re listening to them. In other words, value the voice of your teen.
16. Get to know your teen’s friends. Although at first your teen might wonder why you want to meet their friends, they might later feel that you are showing an interest in their life. Besides, meeting your teen’s friends gives you a sense of the influences on your teen and whether your adolescent may be faced with peer pressure from friends.
17. Eat together as a family. No matter how many members of the family there are, when you eat together, there is a greater chance that your teen will make healthy food choices. Research shows that when a teen eats with the family regularly, they tend to make eat healthier and maintain a healthy weight. Family meal times also gives everyone the chance to talk with another and build relationships.
18. Encourage your teen to volunteer. Becoming involved in the community can help your teen become aware of issues greater than their own. Volunteering can also help your teen learn to think about others and not so much about themselves.
19. Talk to your teen about peer pressure. You might prepare your teen by discussing hypothetical situations in which your teen must make choices. Help your teen plan ahead for difficult and uncomfortable situations.
20. Have fun with your teen. An important need a teen has is knowing that there is an adult on their side, who believes in them, and who accepts them wholeheartedly. Continue to strengthen the relationship you have with your teen by having fun together, talking honestly, and enjoying each other’s company.
These are ideas and suggestions on parenting teens so that parents can help their teen cross the great river of change – that river between childhood and adulthood. You might think of yourselves as the river guide, assisting your teen on their journey. Yet, it’s important to slowly hand the helm over to your teen so that by the time they reach adulthood they feel confident being the captain of their own life.
Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Founder and Executive Director of Paradigm Treatment Centers, who has been a respected leader in the field of adolescent mental health for more than 20 years. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, his Master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, his Doctoral degree from Pacific University’s APA approved Clinical Psychology program, and completed his training at the University of California, San Diego’s APA approved psychology internship program.
Dr. Nalin has provided training and mentoring to students entering the field of psychology at institutions of learning including Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, UCSD, Pacific University, and Santa Monica College. He was also instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
Dr. Nalin has appeared as an expert on shows ranging from CBS News and Larry King, to CNN, The Today Show and MTV. He was also featured in an Anti-Drug Campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Dr. Nalin is a Diplomate of the National Institute of Sports Professionals and a Certified Sports Psychologist as well as a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist. He lectures and conducts workshops nationally on the issues of teen mental health, substance abuse prevention, and innovative adolescence treatment.
In 2017 Dr. Nalin was awarded The Sigmund Freud Foundation and Sigmund Freud University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his work with youth in the field of mental health over the course of his career.