School Age Childrens Books
Advice for Parenting Teens
Tips from the Teacher
A Parent-Friendly Guide of Teacher Tips and Useful Tricks You Can Use to Help Your Child Succeed in School Today
by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.
Helping Your Children Navigate Their Teenage Years:
A Guide for Parents
Getting the Conversation Started
Teenage Brain: A work in progress
Many parents worry when their
teenagers don't want to spend as
much time with the family as they did
when they were younger. This can be
both hurtful and frightening. You worry
about their safety and about their future.
It is normal for children to want to spend
more time with their friends during the
teen years, but it shouldn't mean that
teens ignore their families. Parents and
teens need to take action to stay connected
or to reconnect.
I used to be close with my daughter. She
would talk with me about everything.
Now she's 14 and avoids me. She is
quiet at dinner, and then goes to her
room or talks with friends on the phone
all evening. Sometimes she gets moody
and angry. I want to reach her the way
I used to, but I don't know how to start.
Sometimes the solution is easy. Spend
more time together. Suggest doing
things that you both enjoy. Talk
more. Dinnertime is an excellent
opportunity for that kind of exchange.
Talk about your day. Ask your teen about
his or her day. Be sure the television is
turned off and you and your teen are
Most teens agree that they want to
spend more time with their parents. You
may be surprised to learn that a recent
study indicated that most teenagers rate
"not having enough time together with
parents as their top concern. Many will be
glad that their parents care enough to
make the effort to spend time with them.
Some teens have a hard time expressing
anger and upset feelings. They keep their
feelings bottled inside. Parents need to
draw such children out. Try to start a conversation
by saying "I can see you've been
upset. Let's talk about what's happening.
Some teens, however, may give
parents the cold shoulder. If that happens,
be patient, and be persistent until
you break through. If you can't break
through, there could be a more serious
problem than embarrassment or a
Listening to Your Teen
Let teens know you will listen and try to
understand their point of view, without
putting them down or trying to control
them. Being open-minded sometimes can
be difficult for adults. But to communicate
with teens, parents need to do more than
just talk; they need to listen, and really hear
what their teens are saying. They also need
to notice which issues are not being discussed
and have the courage to start a dialogue
about those issues.
When disagreements arise, listening does
not mean that you give up your authority
as a parent. It does mean giving teens a
voice in matters that concern them.
Through family dialogue, parents get to
know what their teens are thinking and
feeling, and teens get to know where their
parents stand. Sometimes parents and teens
can reach agreements when none seemed possible.
Even when agreement cannot
be reached, teens are more likely to do
what their parents wish if they feel that
their parents listened to them with an
Parents can become frustrated when they
try to start a conversation with their
teenager and he or she just isn't interested.
There are tough topics, however, that
need to be discussed. Teenagers face pressures
and temptations about alcohol and other drugs, sex,
tobacco, guns, and violence. They need and deserve adult
support. don't wait for a crisis. Ideally, parents should
find times and ways to talk with their teens before serious
problems occur, preferably early in the lives of their children.
But it is never too late to start.
Sometimes, you begin a
dialogue about these issues as part of
normal conversation. Often, "teachable
moments happen during day-to-day
activities. For example, you could discuss
underage drinking when someone gets
intoxicated in the presence of your family,
or in a movie, or when you see a newspaper
story about an accident caused by
teenage drinking. You could discuss
violence, and better ways of solving
problems, after watching a TV show or
movie that portrays violence as a solution
to a disagreement.
If your teen doesn't want to
talk, try to be clear that your
purpose is to build understanding
and to be supportive,
certainly not to find fault or
to punish. If you can't nudge
your child into a dialogue,
back off for awhile. This strategy
can be disarming. Then,
give your son or daughter
some time to think it over.
A few days later, you can try
again to start the discussion.
Parents can be flexible in getting
the dialogue going, but
should not give up on the
need for this discussion to
eventually begin. Although it
may be harder to get boys to
open up, parents should
engage in dialogue with their
sons and daughters alike.
Today's teens, more than ever before,
need to connect with adults—if not
a parent, then a coach or teacher, grandparent
or foster parent, clergy member,
or other trusted adult in their lives. Teens
need an adult with whom they can talk
openly. They should not be left to rely
solely on other teens for important information,
conversation, and help with problem
solving about how to grow up wisely.
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