Helping Your Teen Become an Adult
What your teen is saying is true: He's not a baby anymore. But dependable adults are still important in his life, so you'll need an upgrade in parenting skills. Follow these tips to help your teen grow into a successful adult:
- Spend quality time: Do something one-on-one for at least an hour a week: attend after-school practice, build something together or just talk. Be sure to turn off cell phones and TV.
- Listen: Teens don't always want you to solve their problems for them. Be quiet and just hear what they have to say. Listening is a way of helping.
- Be understanding: Make sure you acknowledge their problems as real. Don't say, "You're so young, you have it so easy, you don't know how hard things can be when you get older." Teens don't have the long-term perspective that adults do. Use positive, respectful statements like, "That really does sound like a challenge," or "How does that make you feel?"
- Role model: In your own behavior, show your teen what honesty and stability look like – keep your promises and be predictable.
- Focus outward: Suggest and participate in activities that get teens to think beyond themselves, like volunteering and helping others in the family or community.
- Seek out: Find help and support nearby from other parents you know who have teenagers.
- Build Trust With Your Child: The teen years are about learning to be independent. Practice thinking and planning ahead to foresee potential problems. Allow your child the space to ask for help when he or she needs it. Set expectations for behavior and agree upon consequences for not meeting expectations. Ask how he or she could have acted differently. Follow through with consequences.
- Respect and support the everyday decisions your teen makes. Give your child space to make mistakes, but talk with them to ensure they learn from their mistakes. Trust that the values you taught your children when they were younger will stay in place as they get older.
For More Information
- Learn about your teenager's brain from the American Academy of Pediatrics' website HealthyChildren.org. [go now]
- Download and print Connecting with Your Teen, a tip sheet from our Parent Resource Library.
- HealthyChildren.org, Independence, One Step at a Time
- HealthyChildren.org, Next Stop Adulthood: Tips for Parents
- Got Transition