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Ultimate Guide on Good Parenting & Teenagers
Many kids feel that they don’t want to be anything like their parents. I have so many people ask for advice on how to be a good parent. Their teens don’t want to listen to them because they feel that they are hypocrites. (remember when you were their age?)
As I talk with kids, they tell me that they feel like their parents have no idea what it’s like to be a teen in today’s world. Parents preach tomake them take a break from their devices and go and get some fresh air outside, but are the parents modeling that same behavior? Are the kids so used to being on screens that they have forgotten how to get outside and have fun? “Okay, I’m outside, what am I supposed to do now?”
Our kids are always watching us and always listening. How can we be the best role models and create the life that we want for us and our family?
Read Time: 18 min
What characterizes a good parent?
A good parent tries to act in the child’s best interest while they are making decisions and choices. The parent’s goal, as well as their actions, establish what makes a wonderful parent.
Good parenting doesn’t mean perfect parenting. Nobody is flawless! It’s crucial that we keep this in mind while establishing our goals and expectations.
Aiming for perfection is not necessary for successful parenting. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make progress toward it. We should set high expectations for ourselves first, then for our kids. We act as their most preeminent examples of what to do and how to do it.
How to be a good parent – detailed guide
1. Kids are like sponges, be conscious of your actions
Children start to develop a sense of self when they first see themselves through the eyes of their parents. Kids are always absorbing everything you say and do, including your body language and facial expressions. More than anything else, your words and deeds as a parent have an impact on how they build self-esteem. So if you haven’t started yet and you have a teen now, it’s never too late!
Make teens feel proud
Praise for accomplishments, no matter how minor, will make teens feel proud; allowing them to complete tasks autonomously. This makes teenagers feel strong and capable. In contrast, giving negative feedback or negatively contrasting a youngster with another will make them feel worthless.
Avoid using strong language or personal remarks. Just like physical blows, remarks like “What a stupid thing to do!” or “You act more like a baby than your tiny brother!” hurt.
Be conscious about how you say things and be kind. Tell your teen that even when you don’t approve of their behavior, you still love them and understand that everyone makes mistakes.
2. Catch kids being good
Have you ever paid any thought to how frequently you react negatively to your teens in a single day? You might discover that you criticize much more frequently than you compliment. Even if it was meant well, how would you feel about a manager who gave you so much negative guidance?
Catching children doing something properly is a more effective strategy: “You cleaned your room – that’s wonderful!” or “I saw you doing the dishes – thank you for being helpful.” Long-term, these words will have a more positive influence on behavior than frequent verbal warnings.
Being a good parent means making a point to find something positive to say each day. Be liberal with your praise – your affection, hugs, and compliments can frequently serve as a reward. You’ll soon notice that you are exhibiting more of the behavior you want to see.
3. Set limits and be consistent with your discipline
Every home needs discipline. Discipline is intended to teach teens how to choose appropriate behaviors and develop self-control. They may push the boundaries you set, but they need those boundaries to develop into mature, responsible adults.
Kids can better understand your expectations and learn self-control by following established house rules. A few guidelines might be no TV until homework is finished; no hitting; and no name-calling or hurtful teasing.
You might wish to set up a system that involves warnings and privilege losses. Failure to enforce rules is a typical error made by parents. Teens cannot be punished one day for talking back while being ignored the next. Consistency teaches others what to expect.
4. Make time for your kids
Teenagers don’t always need as much of their parents’ undivided attention as younger children do. Parents should be present when their teen allows them into their activities because there are fewer windows of opportunity for parents and teens to get together. Being present at sporting events, concerts, and other gatherings with your adolescent shows that you care about them and still want to develop meaningful relationships with them and their friends.
In case you’re a working parent, don’t feel bad. Your kids will remember all of the little things you do, like making popcorn, playing games, and window shopping with them.
5. Be a good role model
Just like younger kids, teenagers pick up a lot about behavior by watching their parents. It’s helpful to try to remember this before you lose it in front of your kid: Is that how you want your kid to act when he or she is angry? Be mindful that your children are always keeping an eye on you. According to studies, children who like to hit usually have an aggressive role model at home.
Show your teens how to behave with respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness, and tolerance. Act selflessly and be kind to others. Do things for others without expecting something in return. Above all, remember to treat your children as you would like to be treated.
6. Make communication a priority
You can’t expect kids to do everything simply because you, as a parent, “say so.” Like adults, they desire and deserve explanations for what’s expected of them. Teenagers will start to question our beliefs and motivations if we don’t take the time to explain them. Kids who are reasoned with by their parents are able to understand and learn without feeling judged. They are also more willing to open up about other topics when they know that you will actually listen to them.
Make it clear what you expect. If there is a problem, discuss it, let your child know how you feel about it, and ask them to help you find a solution and include consequences in the conversations. Offer options and make suggestions if they are having trouble with ideas of their own. Be receptive to your child’s advice as well. Negotiate. Children who are involved in making decisions are more inclined to follow through.
7. Be flexible and willing to adjust your parenting style
If your teenager’s behavior frequently leaves you feeling “frustrated” it’s possible that you have overly ambitious standards for them. It may be helpful for parents who have “should” mentalities (such as “My kid should be a professional athlete by now”) to take a minute or two to consult with other parents, a parent coach, like me or child development experts if they are at their wits end.
Adapt your parenting technique
Teenagers’ environments have an impact on their conduct, so altering the environment could alter their behavior. If you find yourself telling them “no” all the time, consider changing the environment to make fewer things off-limits and engage in conversation with them. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to think about which battles are actually worth having. Both of you will feel less frustrated as a result.
Explore all Types of parenting styles so that you know what will work for your family and what may not. Gradually adapting your parenting technique is fine. There’s a good chance that what worked in the past may not work now and you don’t have to change everything overnight.
Teenagers frequently look to their peers more than their parents for role models. But while letting your teens gain more independence, keep giving them advice, encouragement, and suitable punishment, and take use of any opportunity you have to connect!
8. Show them that your love is unconditional
You have a duty as a parent to mentor and direct your children. However, a kid’s response to corrective instruction depends entirely on how you convey it.
Avoid placing blame, criticizing, or finding fault when you talk to your child. These actions shut down any hope for a conversation as well as damaging self-esteem and can cause resentment. Try to be open and kind instead, even while you are correcting your kids. Make sure they understand that even though you anticipate a better outcome the next time, your love will always be there.
9. Know your own needs and limitations as a parent
You are an imperfect parent, let’s face it, so am I. As a family leader, you have both advantages and disadvantages. Recognize your strengths and say, “I am devoted and loving.” Make a goal for yourself to improve in these areas: “I need to be more consistent with discipline.” Try to set reasonable expectations for your partner, yourself, and your children. You don’t have to know everything; be kind to yourself, be a good parent!
Take a break
Make parenting a manageable task. Instead of attempting to deal with everything at once, concentrate on the areas that require the most attention. When you’re exhausted, admit it. Take a break from parenting to engage in activities you enjoy.
You are not selfish if you prioritize your needs. Prioritizing yourself sets an example for your kids to show them that you care about your personal well-being.
10. You cannot be too loving
Simply put, it is impossible to spoil a teenager with love. What we often think of as a spoiled child is never from giving a child too much affection or unconditional love. Kids becoming spoiled is often as a result of offering them anything other than love, such as too much leniency, decreased standards, or financial items.
11. Good parenting means being involved in your teenager’s life
Being a committed parent requires effort and time, and it frequently means changing your priorities. It can sometimes mean sacrificing your desires in favor of what your child requires. This doesn’t change as your child gets older. Be present both emotionally and physically.
Being involved does not mean finishing a child’s schoolwork, nor does it mean reviewing or editing it. The purpose of homework is to let teachers determine whether or not a student is learning. Coaching through the assignment prevents the teacher from knowing what the student is learning. But, as the kids get further along in their education, they know what’s best the vast majority of the time anyway.
12. Adapt your parenting to fit your teenager
Keep up with your teenager’s growth, they are maturing. Think about how the child’s behavior is being impacted by their age and brain development.
Your three-year-old was motivated to be toilet trained by the same need for independence that makes him say “no” all the time. Your 13-year-old Johnny’s behavior at the dinner table is a result of the same cerebral growth spurt that makes them restless and curious in the classroom.
Needing some assistance
There could be a multitude of issues with a 13-year-old or growing adolescent. Perhaps Johnny is feeling down. He might be sleeping too little. Is he up past his bedtime? It’s possible that all he needs is some assistance scheduling his day to allow for study time or down time. He could be struggling to learn. It is not the solution to push him to perform better. A specialist like a parent coach must make a diagnosis of the issue.
13. Establish and set rules
If you don’t discipline your child while they are young, he’ll struggle to develop self-discipline when he’s older when you’re not there. You should always be able to respond to these three questions, day or night:
- What is happening in my kid’s world?
- Who is my child hanging out with?
- What are my kid’s likes and dislikes?
The rules your teen applies to himself will be shaped by the rules he has learned from you.
Good parents don’t micromanage their teenagers. Once your child reaches middle school, you must let them handle their own homework, make their own decisions, and stop getting overly involved.
14. Foster your teenager’s independence
Setting boundaries enables your teen to gain more self-control. Supporting her independence aids in the development of her sense of self-direction. She needs both if she wants to succeed in life.
Teenagers typically push for independence. Many parents incorrectly associate their child’s independence with disobedience or rebellion. Children demand independence because it is human nature to prefer feeling in control versus feeling controlled by others.
15. Be consistent
Your actions, not your child’s, are to blame if your rules are inconsistently applied from day to day or only occasionally enforced. Consistency is your most valuable disciplinary tool. Decide on your absolutes. Your teen will be less likely to reject your authority if it is founded more on wisdom than on power.
Consistency is a challenge for many parents. Children become confused when parents don’t follow through. To be more consistent, you must keep this in mind.
16. Avoid harsh discipline.
In no case should parents ever strike their children. Children who are smacked, spanked, or slapped are more likely to engage in physical violent confrontations with others. They are more likely to bully others and resort to violence to settle disagreements with other people.
Numerous studies have shown that spanking makes kids more aggressive, which can cause issues in their relationships with other kids. There are many alternative methods of raising a child such as Connection Parenting that are more effective and do not entail physical violence or “time out’s.”
17. Explain your rules and decisions
Good parents have standards that they want their kids to meet. Parents typically over explain to young kids and under explain to teenagers. What is clear to you might not seem clear to a 14-year-old. He lacks your experience, judgment, and sense of priorities. Talk your standards and values through with your kids so that they know where you’re coming from and where the decisions came from.
18. Treat your teenager with respect
Treating your teenager with respect is the greatest approach to instill that value in them. The same decency that you would extend to anyone else should also be extended to your child. Honor his viewpoint. Pay close attention to everything he says to you. Show him respect. You have to give respect to get respect.
For instance, don’t emphasize eating if your child is a finicky eater. Food preferences continue to fluctuate in children. They frequently process them in phases. You don’t want to make eating meals a bad experience, because that is what they will remember. Stressful meals can then become a trigger every time you sit down with each other, even if it didn’t used to be when they were little.
Sync with your child
You work on your marriage, dating, friendships, and connections with other adults. Do you continually work on your bond with your child as they are moving into the highly impressionable years? What matters most is that you have a solid connection and are in sync with your child. After that, not much of anything will be a problem. Do things that they like to do. I make a huge fool of myself playing video games ALL the time and we laugh hysterically together while doing it.
19. Practice Connection Parenting
Around 100 billion brain cells (neurons) with only a few neural connections are present in newborns. Our thoughts are generated by these connections, which also direct our behavior, sculpt our personalities, and ultimately define who we are. Through the experiences we have in our lives, the neural pathways are developed, reinforced, and “sculpted.”
Encourage your child to interact with the family, especially in the early years. Then, they will be able to benefit from good experiences and share them with others(3).
Negative experiences, however, will prevent your child from developing in the way that will allow them to thrive.
Sing that silly song. Visit a park. Have fun with your kid. Give them respectful attention. Be present with them as they experience any emotional problems. Take a cooperative approach to problem-solving.
Not only can these beneficial encounters strengthen your child’s neural connections, but they also help your child establish lifelong memories with you.
It can be challenging to have a positive attitude when it comes to punishment, particularly when dealing with behavioral issues. But it is achievable if you employ constructive discipline rather than severe punishment.
Teaching your child your family values of what is right and wrong and why is part of being a good parent.
The key to effective discipline is to set boundaries and maintain them. When you make and uphold rules, do it with kindness and firmness. Consider the cause of your teens’ inappropriate behavior, and rather than punishing them for the past, give them a chance to learn something constructive for the future.
20. Reflect on your own childhood
Many of us aspire to raise our children differently from our parents. Even those of us who were raised well and had pleasant childhoods may wish to alter some aspects of their upbringing.
But a lot of the time, when we speak, we sound just like our parents did.
Make a list
Thinking back on our own childhoods might help us understand why we parent the way that we do. Make a list of the things you’d like to alter and consider how you’d handle the situation differently in the real world. The next time those problems arise with your own kids, try to be conscious and modify your behavior from what you remember from your childhood.
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up. Changing one’s parenting practices purposefully requires a lot of practice. (say that 3 times fast)
Make yourself a list of good parenting tips that fit you and your family. This is the first step towards becoming a really good parent.
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Parenting challenges when dealing with your teens
Teenagers don’t listen, but parents don’t hear
Parenting challenges come in many different shapes and forms. Teenagers like to contradict their parents’ beliefs because they have their own ideas about how things should be and the last thing they want is to be like their parents and their “old, narrow-minded” way of doing things.
Listen to one another
Parents often fail to convince their teenagers to understand why they say and suggest the ideas that they do. Teenagers regularly argue with their parents to try to get their point of view across. There is often just a lot of yelling and arguing and not a lot of listening. There is a huge opportunity for everyone to take a minute, take a breath and really listen to one another.
Many misunderstandings can be cut off at the pass when we take a little more time to widen the space between words and breaths.
Truly listening to your teen and connecting with them is becoming a common parenting challenge.
Walk a mile in their shoes
It wasn’t that long ago that we were teenagers. I also realize that the world is really different for them, but it was also really different parenting challenges for us compared to how it was even for our parents. The point is that we all need to remember that the only thing that remains constant is change.
With that in mind, the greatest gift that we can give to ourselves and to our kids, and everyone else in the world for that matter, is patience and compassion. I am not naive enough to think that it’s easy to be patient all the time and that we won’t all be tested greatly to see if we can stay in that mindset, but if we can anchor ourselves back into being calm and compassionate, things tend to work out exactly how they are supposed to.
As I’ve talked with parents over the years, I’ve compiled a list of the top challenges that parents feel when they have teens:
👉 Helping them discover who they are becoming as an individual.
👉 Navigating the hormones and emotions.
👉 Watching them struggle with relationships of all kinds.
👉 Letting them fail and dealing with natural consequences.
👉 Being able to let go and let them grow.
It’s all just a phase
It’s good to remember that adolescence is just a brief period in our kids’ lives. It’s not the final destination. I don’t know any kid that hasn’t gone through some form of insecurity during the teen years. You are not the same person that you were as a teen, so try not to worry so much.
I know it’s hard to think about that when we feel like we are in the middle of a crisis…but that is why we need to take a minute, step back from the situation, take a breath or 50 breaths and take a broader view of the situation and gain more clarity on how to be a good parent to your kid all the time.
When we see our teens rebelling it’s really them testing their family values to figure out who they are as individuals and how they fit into the world. For them, they need to try on this new “human suit” to see what fits and we need to be patient and know that eventually they will grow out of that too.
So how can we as parents face some of these challenges? These were the same challenges that our parents faced, right? Can we parent differently? Should we parent differently?
What are the principles of modern parenting?
I don’t know about you, but I definitely grew up knowing that I wanted to be a different kind of parent than how I was raised. When we found out I was first pregnant I said to my husband,” I am going to be a more modern parent.”
What is modern parenting and how does it work?
Is it hovering over our kids and wiping every little crumb from their face? Is modern parenting letting your kids do whatever they want so that you don’t upset their fragile little feelings? Is modern parenting doing everything for them because they are too stressed out to do things for themselves? The answer to each of those questions is NO.
Modern parenting is taking everything that is going on around us in the world and holding our family together in the safety, security, and comfort of our homes. Family values help our kids feel the consistency and continuity of what you hold dear as a family. They can see that change is the only constant but their family values are the strong foundation that they know that they can always rely on.
Frame to the families
Modern parenting is looking at all of the research that is available and cherry picking what will work best for their own family based on the situation at hand. It’s based on learning how to discern not only what fits within their family values, but what works best for each of their children. Modern parenting helps frame to the families that they are each okay as their own beautiful and unique pieces of the puzzle that make this whole crazy globe keep spinning.
What do other people say about modern parenting?
I took an informal poll of my mother-in-law and several other moms that would be considered her contemporaries. These are women who all have grown children that have their own children.
Unanimously, when I asked, “what is a good parent?”, they all said raising kids with a strong moral compass, or strong values, who are independent and able to think for themselves. This is what I think of as modern parenting.
Interesting perspectives from their vantage point. I think that if I asked my contemporaries, they would all agree…I’m not sure society as a whole is helping us as parents get our kids to this place. One thing that will never change is that teens are going to push, so what are we to do as modern parents?
How to discipline a teenager and remain a good parent
Kids are going to rebel, make bad choices and test boundaries. When they do, we as parents can follow this how to be a good parent blueprint to help keep us afloat on the river of potential chaos. (1)
- Get into your teen’s shoes and empathize.
- Listen and be curious.
- Stop worrying about what others think – do what’s best for your teen.
- Replace humiliation with encouragement.
- Make sure that the message of love gets through.
- Involve your teens in focusing on solutions
- Make respectful agreements.
Some kids may act like they are not ready to take responsibility for their actions and may get angry when held accountable. Change requires practice and patience. Love yourself and your kids unconditionally. Figuring out how to discipline a teenager is not an easy job.
Figuring out how to discipline a teenager for parents is tough, but we are in it together and we might as well do our best to stay connected and committed to supporting and loving one another for the long game.
House rules for teenagers
One way to stay connected and be committed to showing support and mutual respect is by establishing some house rules for teenagers. Here are 8 suggestions on how teens can really make an impact for the whole family.
1. Job / Chores / Responsibilities
It is a great idea for your teens to have household responsibilities. They live in the home and are perfectly capable of helping. Doing things around the house also helps them with life skills that they will need when they move out.
Working as a team
Responsibilities also help them feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in creating a home that is theirs too. (1) Being involved in chores also gives children experience of relationship skills like communicating clearly, negotiating, cooperating, and working as a team.
When children contribute to family life, it helps them feel competent and responsible. Figure out how to motivate teens to contribute to family responsibilities which will translate into their adulthood later in their life.
Recommended house rule: Teens do some type of chore around the house.
2. Mutual respect/trust
Bad or good parents, regardless, they all face similar challenges. Our teens are exploring boundaries and setting new lines in the sand as it relates to their independence. They need more privacy than they once did. One of the biggest frustrations from teens is when their parents overstep into their privacy.
“Rupture and repair”
There is something called “rupture and repair” and in the spirit of mutual respect and trust, it is a key tool to remember. When a boundary is breached or “ruptured”, the repair is incredibly important. The foundation is changing, and the repair is the cement that will stabilize the rebuilding of the foundation for the new structure to be built and be able to stand strong.
Recommended house rule: Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with one another, without distractions, for a minimum of 5 minutes per day.
An average teen needs 9-10 hours of sleep. Their bodies and brains are going through so much, it’s like when they were toddlers……. Sensing a pattern here. The funny thing is, instead of the “early to bed and early to rise” like when they were little, our teens want to stay up until the wee hours of the night and sleep through the morning.
Nope, it’s not just your kid. Their circadian rhythms “internal clocks” are shifting. Having to get up early for school depletes their need for 9-10 hours, because there are not many teens that I know that are going to bed earlier than 9pm.
Process and prioritize
Our bodies need sleep. Sleep helps us process and prioritize what we’ve learned throughout the day and prune away what we don’t need to remember, regulates our stress hormones, helps us maintain a healthy immune system and digestive system. It’s super important.
Recommended house rule: Get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, preferably more. Those are not just house rules for teenagers.
The kids’ bodies are functioning like an elite athletes’ body, even if they aren’t athletes at all. Their bodies need vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
A bag of sour patch kids with soda as an afterschool snack followed by a bag of chips so they are too full to eat the nice meal that you’ve prepared for dinner isn’t going to work for their growing bodies.
That´s not how to be a good parent and I know that I’m sounding all judgey, but I say this from a place of personal experience and a place of love, because that’s what my own kid did for quite a few months recently and paid the price for it with his health.
Recommended house rule: a minimum of 3-4 servings of fruits and veggies per day. (Yes, they should have more than that, but if that isn’t where they are now, baby steps)
5. Drugs and drinking – the toughest parenting challenge
Our kids’ brains and bodies are growing rapidly. (2) With the growth in the brain specifically, there are neurotransmitters that are forming synapses like crazy. Think about when our kids were little, and they were learning new things every day. This is a time in our kids’ lives where they are seeing things from new perspectives, being introduced to new stimuli, and taking a broader view than they ever have before.
Marijuana is outpacing alcohol as the “go to” for teens these days. Even though pot is considered legal in many states these days, it is still considered detrimental to kids and their developing brains. The pot that we may have smoked in our younger days is very different from the pot that exists today.
The potency of THC in today’s marijuana is almost triple what it was considered to be in the mid-80’s. This doesn’t even take into consideration the concoctions that may be added to lace actual plant “flowers”.
The areas of the brain that are affected by drugs and alcohol are the hippocampus, amygdala, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and nucleus accumbens. These areas of the brain then want more and search for new and different ways of receiving more stimulation. And that, my good parents, is where we can really start getting into trouble. (2)
Alcohol and drug dependency
Longer term effects include decreased memory capacity and social skill abnormalities. Kids who start drinking by age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol and drug dependency as they get older.
Recommended house rule: no drugs or drinking until they are of legal age, or in an imperfectly perfect world after the age of 25.
6. Screen time
Our kids are always watching us, let’s also take our own advice to them. The internet feeds the same reward center in our brains that drugs do. This helps us better understand the constant and seemingly ever-growing need by our kids for more screen time.
I am not naive enough to think that we are going to be able to eliminate our kids’ desire for screen time. I’m not even advocating for that. What I do suggest as a house rule is that there is some type of balance in their lives.
Again, we want balance and an ability to teach family values. There need to be actual conversations with your kids about these lessons and to talk about why the family values are in place for your specific family. We shouldn’t assume that they know what we are thinking and expecting.
Recommended house rule: no more than 5 hours of screen time in a 24-hour day.
7. Respect of the body (including the Brain)
Move your body, bathe your body and respect the changes that your body and brain are going through. Make friends with your body as it’s changing. Become acquainted with the longer legs and arms. See how much strength these new limbs have by trying them out.
Recommended house rule: Eat well, drink water, exercise and get some sleep.
8. Open communication
This is an area that goes hand in hand with mutual respect and trust of one another. If you want your teen to be open with you and come to you to talk, we have to remember not always try to fix things.
Our kids need us to be their sounding board. They are going to tell us things that scare the hell out of us, but we need to be their safe harbor and not react. This builds trust. This builds evidence for them that you really are there for them no matter what. (of course, if there are things that need to be acted upon, like someone is or was in grave danger or doing something against the law or hurting someone, we have to keep our obligation as a good human). We want them to come to us to be their sounding board instead of someone else. Having your kid’s rust is the big reward when you figure out how to be a good parent for your teenager.
Recommended house rule: Debrief on everything that has happened at least once per week, but every day is better. This includes the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Nelsen, Jane, and Lynn Lott. Positive Discipline for Teenagers: Empowering Your Teens and Yourself through Kind and Firm Parenting. Three Rivers Press, 2012.
- Jensen, Frances E., and Amy Ellis Nutt. The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults. Harper, 2016.
- Bradley B, Davis TA, Wingo AP, Mercer KB, Ressler KJ. Family environment and adult resilience: contributions of positive parenting and the oxytocin receptor gene. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. September 2013:21659. doi:10.3402/ejpt.v4i0.21659
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