There seems to be a consensus that somewhere around the 12thbirthday something happens to make your sweet little kid become a parenting nightmare. Suddenly they are snarky, moody and extremely forgetful. Parenting a teenager will challenge your patience and your sanity more than ever before. The difficulty with parenting a teenager is that you get very similar behavior to a toddler… tantrums, mood swings, inability to reason except your looking and your near adult child that should be old enough to reason but lacks the ability to do so consistently. It’s going to be tough for everyone involved but here are 9 ways to survive parenting a teenager.
- Be patient. Your teenager is experiencing a surge in hormones that causing them to feel things they have never felt before and their young brains aren’t quite sure how to process it. It can be intense and overwhelming a kids tend to lash out at the people that they feel the safest with and that will most likely be mom. So try your best to remember what it was like to be a teenager and practice patience.
- Learn sarcasm. It is the language of choice for most teenagers and the better you speak it the better you will get along with your teenager. The trouble is there is a fine line between sarcasm and being disrespectful. Be sure to let them know when they get a little too snarky.
- Breathe. Parenting is frustrating and teenagers can be particularly triggering. So, take a lot of deep breathes when you feel the stress levels rising. It will help you calm down a bit when your teenagers seems to pushing all your buttons.
- Give them some autonomy…aka…Let go. It is your teenager’s job to push away from you, make friends outside of you and become more independent. But in order for them to do that, you mom, have to step back and give them the space to do it. That means letting them make their own choices even if you don’t always approve.
- Be firm and consistent. For teenagers, everything seems to be changing all at once…their bodies, their relationships with their peers, expectations at school, social norms..on and on… They need you to be the anchor in the midst of the chaos and confusion as they figure things out and find their footing. So, be there for them and stand firm even when they tell you you’re ruining their lives.
- Love on them. By the time our kids are teenagers we have to beg for hugs and kisses. They are so embarrassed by affection that they most likely push you away or groan and tell you how embarrassing you are…but do it anyway. They need to know that they have a safe space where they are loved and accepted. And every blue moon they will really need a great big cuddle from their mom to make it all better. Relish in every second of it even when you have to harass them for it because deep down inside they want and need your loving whether they admit it or not.
- Keep the lines of communication open. At this age, our kids are taking in a lot of new information and forming their own opinions about life. Make sure you are making the time to have the big and seemingly small conversations with your kid and they know they can come to you. Sometimes you will have to force the conversations and sometimes they will just magically come to you. Just keep talking to your teen even if they roll their eyes so you can keep the lines of communication open.
- Pick your battles.Teenagers will do and say some stupid and ridiculous things. Their brain has not yet learned to process long term consequence, and all those hormones surging through their bodies are making it quite difficult for them to think logically. They are testing boundaries and asserting their independence. If you fight them every step of the way, the teen years will be a dreadful battle for both of you. Fighting your teen to wear a jacket to school is not the battle to pick.
- Spend time together. Eat dinner as a family, go to the movies together or just hang out at home. Their lives are getting busy and they are most likely building their own social circles that have nothing to do with you. And soon they will be out on their own. So, make yourself available and spend all the time you can get with them.
How have you survived parenting a teenager?
Elisha Beach is a stay-at-home mom to four kids and four step-kids…Yes, you read that right—eight kids. She is a wife, home cook, taxi driver, herder of children, terrible housekeeper, selfcare advocate and founder of The Mom Forum.
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