Parenting a Teen Starts Early
One of the best kept secrets in parenting a teen is to start early; in fact, the earlier the better. You can begin parenting your teens when they are children. That may sound strange, but let me explain.
- If you want a teen to listen and talk to you about “anything,” start by listening to them when they are children. Give them a childhood of knowing their parent is interested in hearing their opinions and stories. It will demand patience on your part to listen to your child tell you the same story in excruciating detail for the hundredth time; but, listening with full attention establishes you as the “go to person” in your children’s eyes. It makes you the person they will think of when they have important matters to discuss as a teen. It opens the door for you to have the important life discussions you want to have with your teen.
- If you want your teen to have a desire to spend time with the family, establish routines that include fun family times. Make dinner time a family time of conversation, laughter, and sharing rather than arguments and lectures. Enjoy playing together. Add in some fun surprise activities now and again. Let your children learn they are part of a family filled with laughter, fun, and sharing. As a teen, they’ll want to return to that family time and again.
- Practice an open door policy. Encourage your children to invite their friends to your house. Keep a supply of drinks and snacks available for friends who stop by. Get to know your children’s friends. Make you home one that your children and their friends love to visit. Then, when you children become teens, they’ll still come to your house to hang out and have fun. An added bonus—you’ll know where they are and what they’re doing as teens.
- If you have areas of concern for your future teen, get involved early. For instance, start listening to music together now. Sing together. Listen to the radio and talk about the lyrics of various songs. Expand the options of musical opportunities and availability. As another example, include your children in making choices when shopping for clothes. Allow them to express their unique tastes. Discuss fashion trends and what dress communicates. As your children become teens, these interactions are more likely to continue. Potentially conflictual areas like music and shopping become areas of developing relationships rather than constant arguing.
It’s never too early to start parenting your teen; in fact, the sooner the better. Prepare for the teen years by becoming involved during their childhood. If your child is already a teen, do not fear. Focus on the relationship with your teen because it’s never too late to start parenting your teen!