Common Parenting Mistakes with Teens and Tweens and What Parents Can Learn from Them
Parenting teens can be challenging, leaving ample opportunity to make mistakes. It’s important to identify our mistakes so we can grow in awareness and learn to break unhealthy parenting patterns. This will bring healing and build closer relationships with our kids.
All parents want the best for their kids and do all they can to raise healthy independent young adults, but there are some parenting mistakes that may hinder that process.
Below are common parenting mistakes with teens and what parents can learn from them.
Mistake #1: Responding to teen drama with more drama.
Teens can be emotionally charged in how they express themselves and a parent’s response can be equally dramatic.
It turns out, this over-reactive behavior is actually quite normal for tweens and teens and an emotional response from the parent only fuels the fire. Tweens and teens are managing raging hormones that ignite strong feelings and parents often get the brunt of that stress, but that doesn’t mean parents can respond in a similar fashion.
It’s important to set clear limits on unacceptable behavior but it’s equally critical to help kids learn how to express their feelings productively so they can develop effective communication skills. When teenagers display negative behavior, parents need to control their own outbursts and help them navigate through the emotional turbulence that comes at their age.
Mistake #2: Giving ridiculously harsh consequences.
When teens and tweens break rules, are disrespectful, or make grave mistakes, parents can respond in the heat of the moment with severe consequences.
Lashing out with harsh penalties is not productive. Hurling massive consequences doesn’t help change the behavior or develop responsibility.
A better approach would be to not lash out with any consequences immediately, but instead parents should respond after they calm down and decide on appropriate disciplinary actions their teen understands. Discuss the issues surrounding the negative behavior, then establish more realistic and educational repercussions.
Mistake #3: Projecting your own personal experience on your teen’s circumstances
Parents cannot assume their teens will have the same experiences and feelings that they did growing up.
When parents project their own childhood experiences on what their kids are going through, they are not validating their teen’s unique perspective. How we were raised has a great impact on how we parent our kids, but parents must remember to separate their personal past from their teen’s present.
Our kids are unique individuals born with their own personality traits, emotions, and life experiences. Make sure to detach from past experiences and the emotions that go with them and focus solely on your child’s personal circumstances and perspective. Pay close attention to what your teen is sharing and help them pave their own road.
Mistake #4: Focusing on performance more than personality.
Many parents spend too much time praising their kids’ accomplishments instead of praising their character traits and personal attributes.
When parents focus more on achievements and success, it sends a message that what their kids do is more important than who they are. Teens are slowly developing their identity during these formative years and they need our attention and validation on their character and growing personality traits.
Celebrate your kid’s successes, but spend more time acknowledging and praising their personal growth so they realize your love isn’t conditional on their performance. Be intentional with where you are giving your attention and make sure to recognize the special qualities you see developing in your teen.
This is why I love our community at Moms of Tweens and Teens. We’re all going to make mistakes, no doubt about it. But when we know that we’re not alone and that there’s support that’s available, it makes all the difference. We can take our mistakes, give ourselves some self-compassion and practice doing things differently in order to build closer relationships with our kids.
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