10 Easy Tricks for Parenting Teens

Two women playing video games on a couch.

Anyone who has ever had a teenager or who has been a teenager knows how difficult this time of life can be. Teenagers are naturally rebellious during this stage, because they are starting to pull away from their parents. It’s in their chemistry to be unmanageable, to talk back, and to become more adventurous. This can lead, however, to a breakdown between parents and teens, which is good for absolutely no one. Maintaining a positive teen and parent relationship is not just better for the teen, it is also better for the parent. Here are some of our favorite tricks for parenting teens:

1. Talk to your teenager

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Any parent of a teenager knows that getting a teenager to talk to you isn’t as easy as it sounds. Teenagers are at a stage in their life where they are starting to realize that their parents are humans and not the superheroes they believed them to be when they were kids. When you make mistakes (real or perceived), the teen will start to pull away and will be less likely to talk to you. Make it clear to your teen that you are first, not going to relent and second, not going to be shocked by what they tell you. This will keep the lines of communication open.

2. Make sure you know your kid’s friends

Many teenagers shed the friendships they developed when they were in elementary school and start making new friendships. Others will retain those old friendships. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t need to put the effort into getting to know those kids, now that they are old. In short, make sure that you know your teenager’s friends. They’ll be more likely to want to hang out at your home, and less likely to get into trouble.

3. Set boundaries

Teenagers are going to be pushing boundaries wherever they can find them. That’s what teenagers do. You, as a parent, however, still need to set those boundaries and make sure there is a real punishment when a teen steps over the line. If they don’t have a very clear idea of what is okay and what is not okay, many teenagers will simply go as far as they possibly can. They won’t know where to stop and can end up in real trouble.

4. Be interested in what your teen is interested in

If you as a parent don’t take interest in what your child is interested in, they will only pull farther away from you. You may not always love or understand what your teen loves, but making a sincere effort shows that you care about him and what he cares about. This means showing up for games and performances and taking an interest in his other pastimes like video games, writing, drawing, etc. Not only will encouraging these interests help your teen find himself, they help you build a bond.

5. Say no, but give a reason

As a child, simply hearing the word “no,” might be enough of a reason not to do something. “Because I said so,” however, is going to be less effective on a teenager. Remember, that teenager is starting to realize that there are authorities higher than you and that your authority might not actually be as ironclad as they once thought it to be. Giving solid, logical reasons, however, behind why you don’t want a teen to do something can help that teenager see that you aren’t saying no because you don’t want them to have fun, but because you are concerned about them and what they want to do is unsafe.

6. Give them responsibilities

Teenagers want to be adults, so treat them like adults. Make sure that they have responsibilities in the family sphere and around the house. Some of these things are going to be dubbed as “chores,” but it’s easy to get a teenager on board with responsibilities, if he also reaps the rewards. That means connecting those “chores” with his ability to go out with his friends or use the car, etc.

7. Take their door

This is one of our favorite tricks for parenting teens. Teens want privacy, but if they haven’t earned the right to privacy (by at least being friendly), removing their door can be a great way to show them first, that you are still in control and second, that their actions have consequences. This is also an effective way to get a messy teenager to clean up his or her room.

8. Make hard and fast data rules

Technology was not something our parents had to make rules about—there weren’t portable computers at affordable prices until most of us were already beyond our teenage years. Today, many teenagers have their own laptops and smartphones. It’s alright to make rules about when and where those devices can be used, ranging from no data at the dinner table, to switching off the WiFi after eight pm.

9. Give your teenager a do over

With hormones raging, teenagers are bound to do or say something that they will immediately regret and want to take back. Give them the opportunity to respond to those feelings and develop them by developing a do-over system. If they recognize that something they’ve done is wrong, let them have a do-over and act different in that situation, without additional repercussions.

10. Channel their behavior

It’s important not to hold them back when they are starting to become adventurous and independent. However, instead of letting your teen run rampant, you might be benefited by finding a way to channel those inclinations (and other inclinations) in a positive way that helps them develop, without endangering themselves.