10 Mistakes Made When Parenting Teenagers
1. Ignoring the obvious. When your teenager suddenly starts doing such things as sleeping in, missing classes and missing curfew you might be tempted to simply write it off as normal teenage behavior. But could there be more too it than that? You don't want to over-react, but don't under-react either. If there is a problem now is the time to root it out. So, don't bury your head in the sand and wait for things to blow up in your face.
2. Lecturing rather than discussing. If your teenager is going to develop into a responsible adult who is capable of making decisions then you need to teach him just how to go about making decisions. All too often it is easier to simply tell a teenager what to do (and what not to do) rather than to take the time to sit down and discuss the options, pointing out the pros and cons and showing them how to choose the right path. Not only does this not help your teenager to develop the skills he needs, but it also often leads to unnecessary confrontation.
3. Not enforcing rules or punishment. The majority of parents do not have any problem with laying down a set of rules for their teenagers and coming up with suitable punishments, but all too many have difficulty when it comes to enforcing the rules or handing out punishment. Your teenager needs to be given boundaries and, perhaps more importantly, he needs to know that there will be consequences if he breeches these boundaries. You are not doing your teenager any favors if you end up teaching him that rules don't really matter and that it is okay to simply break them whenever he feels like it.
4. Setting unreasonable goals. An important part of a teenager's development is learning to set goals and then constructing a plan to achieve them. This means that you also need to set goals for your teenager and teach and encourage him to meet them. However, if you set goals which are unrealistic then you are simply setting your teenager up to fail with all of the negative results which that brings with it.
5. Expecting only positive results. All too often we expect our children to be well behaved and to achieve good grades in school and so do not praise good behavior or good results. At the same time we are all too quick to jump in and react to bad behavior or poor results. Children do of course need to be punished for bad behavior and poor grades (assuming that their poor grades are the result of their own laziness), but they also need to be given praise for good results.
6. Assuming that educating is someone else's responsibility. All too often it is assumed that it is the role of the schools to not simply teach your teenager reading and writing, but also all about the dangers of drugs, drinking, pre-marital sex and anything else you care to mention. This is not the case. The responsibility for educating your children rests firmly at your door and, while the schools can certainly be extremely helpful to you in fulfilling this role, it is still up to you to sit down with your children and talk to them about drugs, drinking, sex and everything else they will need to equip them for adult life.
7. Assuming that good grades mean that all is well. Many parents make the mistake of assuming that if a teenager is doing well at school then everything must be fine. A bright kid may however have little difficulty maintaining good grades and knowing that this will keep you off his back gives him the opportunity to go out drinking, experiment with drugs or anything else he chooses. Good grades are nothing more than an indication that your teenager is making satisfactory progress academically.
8. Ignoring the need for 'family time'. Because we all lead busy lives these days, it is often difficult to fit everything in and one of the first things to go is often family time. Setting aside some time every day for the family to eat together and to talk is essential to provide your children with the opportunity to get advice, encouragement and feedback from you and for you to see whether everything is well or if there are problems looming on the horizon. Even if you cannot spare a great deal of time, twenty or thirty minutes sitting down to an evening meal as a family can be invaluable.
9. Giving up too quickly. Teenagers are very good when it comes to getting what they want and can be extremely creative when it comes to working out how to get you to say 'yes'. They will also rarely take 'no' as an answer first time out and will keep on at you until they get their way. Let your teenagers play this game as it is part of the learning process but hold your ground and be consistent. At the end of the day if the answer needs to be 'no' then don't back down.
10. Not keeping up with modern adolescent behavior. It's only natural for you to look at your teenager's development and compare it to your own days as a teenager. But teenagers today are very different and the changes from one generation to the next can be frightening. Take some time to educate yourself about modern teen life not simply by talking regularly with your teenage children, but also by looking at teenage magazines, television and of course the internet. Some things will be seen as positive developments and others as negative but, whatever the changes, it is important to understand that this is the world in which your teenagers and their friends are growing up.
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