· · · ·

6 Common Minefields With Teens: What Works and What Doesn’t

Raising tweens and teens can feel like traversing a minefield at times. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, a new challenge arises to keep you on your toes or make you throw your hands up in surrender about what to do in different situations. It’s important to remind ourselves that this is a time of incredible change. Our kids are transitioning from being children to becoming adults, and they are experiencing so much stress and pressure during these critical years of growing up. All these changes and challenges also create a learning curve for us parents as we try to figure out what works and what doesn’t when parenting our teens.

I find it incredibly helpful to recognize common pitfalls, what we often fall into that backfires, and what we can do instead that is helpful and will create more of the positive outcomes we desire. Parenting tweens and teens takes a lot of hard work and thoughtful intention in how we approach our kids in different situations. It’s SO hard not to react from our strong emotions and instead take a breath and think through the most effective ways we can intervene to help our kids manage all the growing pains they are trying to navigate.

Here are six common minefields with teens: What not to do and what to do instead.

  1. When Your Teen Is Being Defiant:
    • Don’t: React with anger or punishment. This often escalates the situation, leading to a power struggle.
    • Do: Stay calm and empathize with their feelings. Try to understand the underlying reasons for their defiance. Setting clear boundaries and consequences, which can be discussed in a respectful manner, can be more effective.
  2. When Your Teen Is Withdrawing:
    • Don’t: Badger them with questions or invade their privacy. Pressuring them to open up can make them retreat further.
    • Do: Create a supportive environment where they feel safe to share at their own pace. Engage in activities together without expecting a conversation, and be patient. Sometimes, just being there silently communicates your support.
  3. When Your Teen Is Engaging in Risky Behavior:
    • Don’t: Lecture or criticize them harshly. This can lead to resentment and defiance, driving them further towards risky behaviors.
    • Do: Have open, non-judgmental discussions about the consequences of their actions. Help them develop critical thinking skills by asking questions that encourage reflection. Offer guidance on how to make safer choices without resorting to punishment.
  4. When Your Teen Is Pushing Boundaries:
    • Don’t: React impulsively or give in to their demands to avoid conflict. This undermines your authority and sets a precedent for future boundary-pushing.
    • Do: Hold firm to your boundaries while remaining flexible when appropriate. Explain the reasons behind your rules and listen to their perspective. Negotiate compromises that respect both parties’ needs and values.
  5. When Your Teen Is Experiencing Emotional Turmoil:
    • Don’t: Dismiss their feelings or minimize their struggles. Invalidating their emotions can make them feel misunderstood and isolated.
    • Do: Validate their feelings and offer support without trying to fix everything. Be a compassionate listener and acknowledge their experiences as valid. Encourage healthy coping mechanisms like journaling, exercise, or talking to a trusted adult.
  6. When Your Teen Is Struggling Academically:
    • Don’t: Criticize or pressure them excessively, which can erode their self-esteem and motivation.
    • Do: Collaborate with them to identify challenges and brainstorm solutions. Offer praise for their efforts and provide resources or tutoring if needed. Focus on their progress rather than just their grades and help them find intrinsic motivation to succeed.

Parenting our kids through their tween and teen years requires patience, empathy, and open communication. We all have to manage these common minefields with teens, and it’s certainly not easy for anyone! While it’s tempting to resort to traditional disciplinary tactics or strict authoritarianism, these approaches often backfire, damaging the parent-child relationship and hindering healthy development. Adopting a more supportive and understanding approach can help you and your tween or teen navigate this challenging stage with resilience and confidence. I promise you will notice a huge difference in how your kids respond when you realize what works and what doesn’t when parenting tweens and teens!

Similar Posts