Being a teenager today versus when you were growing up is a lot more challenging. Children are often exposed to a lot more, and as such, many pressures are placed on them early on in life. As they strive to figure out who they are amongst their ever-opinionated peers, many teens will push the limit to fit in. Some may do nothing more than skip class or miss curfew, but others will go to extremes that include promiscuous sex and even abusing drugs and alcohol.
Every parent is aware of the changes their teens will go through and the various behavioral changes that might manifest from it, however, the hope is that their teens will steer clear of negative and reckless behaviors. Unfortunately, at this point in your child’s life, you can’t control every aspect and must, therefore, lay down the foundation which will help guide them down the right path. Below are some tips on how to do this:
Skip the Whole Lecture Thing
When bringing up topics like sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and other negative behaviors, it is imperative that you don’t lecture your teens. Long-winded approaches to subject matters like this, believe it or not, will go in one ear and out the other.
Instead of talking at your child, talk to them about what you know and why it’s important they don’t go down that path. When conversations between a parent and child are open and inviting (instead of lecturing and condescending), they are more inclined to speak to you about peer pressures and will also be more likely to listen to the advice you provide. Make sure that this isn’t a conversation that happens once, or when an issue arises. This should be an open and continuing dialogue between yourself and your child.
Get Your Knowledge Up
The best way to keep your teen informed about peer pressures and negative influences is to first gain knowledge for yourself. You can’t very well expect to relate to your teenager and talk with them about the dangers of social media if you don’t even have an account or know how to use it. It might also be quite difficult to talk to your child about the new street drugs out there if you have no idea what the latest lingo is or the sources it comes from.
The more informed you are, the better equipped you are to inform your teen and answer their questions. Read books about addiction and teens, sign up for social media, watch the latest news, talk to other parents or educators…whatever you can do to familiarize yourself with current-day topics, the better you can guide your teen.
Set Boundaries (And Give Trust)
Your teen hasn’t yet learned how to identify the dangers of the real-world and set boundaries to protect themselves. This is where you come in as a parent. To reduce their exposure to pressures and to help them navigate the troubling waters it is imperative to set boundaries. Such boundaries might include limiting their screen time, being mindful of the content they’re allowed to view, setting a curfew, and more.
The point is, you want your teen to have enough freedom to explore who they are and enjoy life, but you don’t want to give them too much room to make choices that could backfire. Once you’ve set these boundaries or rules and attached consequences to them, be sure that you’re trusting your teen to follow through. Being a warden, overly lecturing them, constantly checking in, or setting too many limitations can encourage your teen to act out in a negative way.
Be a Positive Role Model
Your teenager would likely rather die than admit out loud that they look up to you, however, they do. You are the first example they have of how a human being should live and act. If you want to encourage your teen to stay on the straight and narrow, it is best to lead by example. Make sure that you’re not engaging in reckless behavior, be mindful of the type of content you view and also center yourself around positive friends. Seeing you remain above the influence and negativity will encourage them to do the same.
Parenting teenagers can be a struggle. While you want them to be free to be who they are and have fun in discovering who that is, you don’t want them to travel down the wrong path. You can minimize the likelihood of them making poor decisions during these next crucial years of their life by guiding them in the right direction. Skip the lectures, learn what you can, set boundaries, be a positive role model and constantly work at developing a strong relationship with your teen that encourages them to be open and honest with you. These things will help you remain a positive staple in your child’s life which could make all the difference in the world.