The joys and challenges of parenting teens

The following piece was provided by Campus Corps.

The teenage years can be a daunting time for both adolescents and their parents/guardians. It is not uncommon for parents or guardians to feel at a loss for how to handle their teenager during this transitional period of development, as they begin to make the shift from a child to a young adult. Below are five tips (adapted from the Mayo Clinic ) for parents/guardians raising teenagers.

1. Express Your Love
Positive quality time can go a long way with a teenager. Listen to what they have to say and let them know that you care. Take your teenager out or try cooking dinner together and enjoy the meal with friendly conversation. Just being near each other can encourage conversations. Sometimes parents may need to reprimand their teens, but only giving negative feedback without justified praise may cause your teen to feel disheartened. Try complimenting your teenager twice following a reprimanding. Of course this does not have to be the only time you compliment him or her. Most adolescents are insecure even if they seem confident on the outside.

Smiling happy teenage girl sitting in front of her parents

2. Don’t Push Too Hard
Teenagers love to express themselves in their own unique way. Your teen may not express themselves in the same way that you did. Avoid pressuring your teen to wear their hair or clothes a certain way or to pursue activities you think they need to do.

3. Be Cyber Safe
Encouraging cyber safety can be extremely difficult because teens fight for their privacy more than anything. Parents should participate in their teen’s life on social media. If your teen is on Instagram, you should be too. Establish safety rules such as not having people who you don’t know follow you on social media. Be sure that your teen knows to never share personal information online and not to meet up with people they have met online. Most importantly, make sure he or she knows to tell you anytime online interactions feel uncomfortable.

4. Set Limits
Help teens set boundaries by discussing what behaviors are acceptable and what are unacceptable. Make sure you’ve decided on an appropriate consequence for when he or she does something inappropriate (avoid ultimatums), and be prepared to explain your decision. When discussing limits for behavior, be clear and concise, put the rules in writing, be reasonable, and be flexible.

5. Make Rules a Priority
Parents should set clear and reasonable rules for their teen’s behavior and honor rules that have been established. Engage in conversations with your teen about why you have certain expectations. Enforcing consequences on a consistent basis can be one of the toughest things for parents and guardians. Avoid being overly critical. Ask your teens what they think a fair consequence would be for a specific behavior.

Despite the best efforts of the adults in a teenager’s life, some may end up facing problems with school, substance use, emotions, bullying, or other issues. After-school programs, therapy, and mentoring are three great ways to help struggling teens through these issues. Fortunately right here on campus there is a program that includes all three of these elements. Campus Corps provides a supportive environment with a positive role model, fun activities, and a hot meal every week. Campus Corps is open to any youth age 11-18. If your teen or the teen of a friend or colleague is having a tough time, please contact Campus Corps. Call 970-492-4004 or visit our website. You can also reach us by typing “Campus Corps” into the search bar on the CSU homepage.