5 Mistakes Parents Make With Teens & Tweens

There is a cluster of serious problems that are hugely up for girls and teens. One in five will experience a serious psychological disorder before reaching adulthood. They are a lot more anxious, they are more likely to self-harm, they are more prone to bullying, they are binge drinking and they are more likely to be at risk of promiscuous sexual behaviour.

They mature and bud even quicker and you will be amazed at what they know but unfortunately, because they are still basically kids and articulating life around, they could read all that happens around them wrongly. Girls are more stressed and depressed than they’ve ever been before.

Let’s discuss 5 major mistakes parents make with teens and tweens. The key is knowing what efforts are worth it, and which ones backfire.

5 Mistakes Parents Make With Teens

Expecting the Worst

 Teenagers get a bad rap, and can sense when you feel they are a handful or little monsters that you have to helplessly watch over.  That sets you and your teen up for several unhappy, unsatisfying years together.  Sometimes, bonding damage may be irrevocable.

The message we give teenagers is that they’re only ‘good’ if they’re not doing ‘bad’ things, such as watching violent movies,  hanging out friends you deem to be ‘bad’ or doing ‘drugs’.

It could actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Negative expectations can actually promote the behaviour you fear most. It has been known that teens whose parents expected the worst of them actually have higher levels of negative behaviour patterns much later.

Reading Too Many Parenting Books 

Rather than trusting their instincts, many parents turn to outside experts for advice on how to raise their teens. This is not bad in itself but it becomes a problem when parents use them to replace their own innate skills. While it is okay to get perspective on confusing behaviour and you cannot afford to think you have learned all you need to know by reading parenting books.

On the other hand, if the recommendations and the parents’ personal style do not fit, parents wind up more anxious and less confident with their own children.

Sweating the Small Stuff

Maybe you don’t like your tween daughter’s haircut or choice of clothes. Or perhaps she didn’t get the part in the play you know she deserves. But before you step in, look at the big picture.

If it’s not putting your child at risk, give her the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions and learn from the consequences of her choices.

A lot of parents don’t want growing up to involve any pain, disappointment, or failure – but protecting your child from the realities of life takes away valuable learning opportunities – before they are out on their own.  

Of course, you’ll still be there for guidance and comfort – especially in their dressing and hours they stay out – you’re still the parent. But challenge yourself to step back and let your child know you’re there for them.  It matters to them that you can trust them.

Ignoring The Big Stuff

If you suspect your child is using alcohol or drugs, do not look the other way. Even if it’s “just” alcohol or marijuana (it happens, believe me, or even if it reminds you of your own youth) – you must take action now, before it becomes a bigger problem.

“The years when kids are between 13 and 18 years old are an essential time for parents to stay involved,” Amelia M. Arria, PhD, tells WebMD. She is a director of the University of Maryland’s Center on Young Adult Health and Development. Parents might consider teen drinking a rite of passage because they drank when they were that age. “But the stakes are higher now,” Arria says.

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Watch for unexplained changes in your teen’s behaviour, appearance, academic performance, and friends. And remember, it’s not just illicit drugs that are abused now —prescription drugs and even cough medicines and household products are also in the mix.

If you find empty cough medicine packaging in your child’s trash or backpack, if bottles of medicine go missing from your cabinet, or if you find unfamiliar pills, pipes, rolling papers, or matches, your child could be abusing drugs.

Take these signs seriously and get involved. Safeguard all the medicines you have: Know which products are in your home and how much medication is in each package or bottle.

Too Much, or Too Little, Discipline

Some parents, sensing a loss of control over their teens’ behaviour, crack down every time their child steps out of line. Others avoid all conflict for fear their teens will push them away.

You don’t have to do either of those things. It’s about finding a balance between obedience and freedom.

If you put too much emphasis on obedience, you may be able to make your teen or tween fall into line — but at what price? Teens raised in rigid environments miss out on the chance to develop problem-solving or leadership skills — because you’re making the decisions for them.

Yet too little discipline doesn’t help, either. Teens and tweens need clear structure and rules to live by as they start to explore the world outside.

As their parent, it’s up to you to set your family’s core values and communicate them through your words and actions. That’s being an authoritative parent, an approach that “helps children develop the skills they need to govern themselves in appropriate ways,” Lerner says.

Remember, your influence runs deeper than you may think. Most teens say they want to spend more time with their parents. Keep making time for your child throughout the tween and teen years. Even when it doesn’t show, you provide the solid ground they know they can always come home to.

Contributed by Laila Jean St. Matthew-Daniel a Transformational Leadership Coach (T.L.C.), Social Commentator & SME Consultant.  She can be found at www.lailastmd.com
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