Mistakes You’re Making With Your Teenager


Nobody said raising teenagers would be easy, but making these mistakes will only make it harder

Raising teenagers is not easy. They are moody, they want their independence and don’t seem to be listening to you. And what do you do? You probably push harder. After all, you’re the parent and you know better. But the things you do can sometimes push them away. They include the following.

Not Listening To Them And Always Telling Them What To Do

When was the last time you just listened to your child without interrupting to offer advice, scold or give instructions? “Everyone responds better when they’re talked to rather than told what to do. Telling easily becomes nagging, which simply doesn’t work. Talking is particularly important after disagreements. If we don’t establish why something happened, then hurtful words and threatening behaviour can become a pattern that gets repeated next time a similar situation arises,” Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock advise in Whatever!: A Down-to-earth Guide to Parenting Teenagers.

Always Expecting The Worst Of Them

When you expect the worst of your teenager, the worst can surely happen. When Christy Buchanan and fellow researchers studied 250 adolescents and their mothers, they found that when parents expect their teenagers to conform to negative stereotypes, those teens are in fact more likely to do so. When presenting the findings, she said, “Parents who believe they are simply being realistic might actually contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy…Negative expectations on the part of both parents and children predict more negative behaviours later… By thinking risk-taking or rebelliousness is normal for teenagers and conveying that to their children, parents might add to other messages from society that make teenagers feel abnormal if they are not willing to take risks or break laws.”

Not Setting Clear Rules

Lack of clear rules and expectations can encourage bad behaviour in teenagers. Worse is if you have rules but don’t follow through with consequences if they break them. Don’t make rules as you go along or verbal rules that they can manipulate. Write down rules that are clear of loopholes. Adopt an authoritative approach when setting rules where you involve them, explain to them why you’re setting said rules and explain what the consequences would be.

Being Too Controlling

If your mantra is “my way or the highway” when dealing with teenagers (and children in general), it can backfire. According to a 2012 research from the University of New Hampshire, authoritarian parents are more likely to raise disrespectful, delinquent children who do not see them as legitimate authority figures. Authoritarian parenting is a style of parenting where whatever the parent says go; the parent is demanding, controlling and expects unquestioning obedience from the child. This style of parenting has been linked to low self-esteem in children, increased risk in drugs use, among others.

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