5 Top Tips for Parenting Teens

For more closeness and less conflict.

Disclaimer: I’m no perfect parent, in fact the very idea that such a thing even exists is enough to make life as a parent miserable - which is a whole other blog of it's own!

What I am is a sole parent and a soul mother. I foster a culture of compassion in my home, and I coach other people to do that too. Get in touch if you’d like some support with your parenting journey, or if you're curious to learn more about any of the tips offered below.

#1 Put the Oxygen mask on yourself first

My number 1 tip is to take care of yourself. This might sound obvious but it actually takes discipline and practice to notice how you’re feeling and be able to stop and do something about it (other than react or demand that your teenager do it for you). Paying attention to your inner world and prioritising your own self care makes life more wonderful, as well as modelling self responsibility to your teenager.

Reach for the mask and breathe until regulated : 

What am I feeling ? … / What am I needing?... / What can I do to take care of myself in this moment?

#2 Connect first, educate second

This is the second most important tip because connection is basically EVERYTHING. When you have connection there is safety and trust. A teenager who trusts that his needs matter to you, is much more likely to have empathy for your needs too. With connection comes a regulated emotional environment (homeostasis), providing more access to rational thinking where agreements can be made that work for everyone. Take any and every opportunity to connect with your Teen because your chances to influence his choices will inevitably become further and fewer between.

If you want to influence your teenager then make connection your first mission: 

 Connect first, educate second...  ( recommended silent mantra)

Being 'seen' strengthens connection (Teens LOVE being recognised for their capabilities)  : 

Well done for getting through that, I can see it wasn’t easy…/ Thanks for helping out before, it really made a difference to my day.../ Thanks for hearing me..../ I saw how you managed to rise above that...good for you!

#3 Know the E.S.S.E.N.C.E of adolescence

ESSENCE is an acronym that represents four aspects of the teenager’s changing brain ( Emotional Spark, Social Engagement, Novelty and Creative Exploration). There is great peace of mind in realising how much of your teens behaviour is normal and unavoidable. Do some research into this and help your Teen find creative and healthy ways to express their adol'essence'. They are losing control of their childhood, with no control over their looming adulthood. It’s scary. It's overwhelming. Its stressful. Look beneath the surface of their behaviour and get curious about what might be going on for them.

Get curious and stand in her sneakers ( without stepping on her toes) :

I wonder what's going on for her right now? ... / What might she be feeling..? / What she might be needing..... ?

#Bonus tip. Empathise with teenagers silently, as well as verbally.  

#3 When the heat is on, cool off!

There is no point expecting rational dialogue with a heated teenager. When the amygdala is activated their brains are lit up like a Christmas tree, which means they are in FULL fight or flight mode and will say and do the most outrageous and unrepeatable things to defend and protect their autonomy and safety.

Don't take it personally : 

I can see you’re feeling angry right now, so I’m going to give you some space to cool off...

And take your own advice :

I’m noticing that I’m feeling angry right now, so I’m going to take some space to cool off...

#5 Step out of the control seat and into the support seat

Our teens are fast moving from dependence to independence and yes they need our help, but they do NOT need us to micro manage them. Yes set boundaries and take their devices off them, yes do insist they exercise and contribute to household chores... but don’t expect them to like it. Expect them to complain and let them have the last word. Give up controlling them, (but don't give up on them).

Enjoy more nurture and less nag :

Do you need any support from me with that?…/ I can see the issue, what are you thinking to do about it?…/ How can I help you work out how to deal with this...?

Make agreements and be prepared to revisit them over and over again : :

Remember we talked about this being your responsibility…/ Remember I’m not up for doing things for you that you can do for yourself…/ Remember I'm on your side…/ Remember I love you...

Some useful reads and resources: 

Rewards and Praise: The Poisoned Carrot

30 ways to stay connected with your teen

Setting limits with teens and pre teens

OMG I can’t believe my teenager just said that to me

The heart of parenting - Marion Rose

Raising children compassionately- Marshall Rosenberg

Review of this article by my teenage daughter: 

Ha! - as if she would know how to parent well!...

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