If you were to relive your teenage years all over again, what advice would you give to yourself? Every human being has to cross this “valley” to reach new heights. Some teenagers grow wings during this time while others have a hard time understanding what’s happening to them. Everybody has a different experience as a teenager, but parents can make these years fly more pleasantly by controlling their reactions and through good communication. We know that raising teenagers is quite a challenge so we decided to come up with some awesome pieces of advice for you.
You and your teenage son or daughter may not be on the same page anymore. And believe us – nobody’s going to turn the page for you. Rewind your memory and try to remember what bothered you when you were in high school and what would you have changed if you had been able to. Who had it harder? You may say that your parents were lucky not to have so many gadgets to keep an eye on, but every generation has faced major technological advancements. As kids enter their teenage years, far more complex problems arise. Gone are the days when you could give your children access to screens on completion of certain house chores. Or when it was enough to say “No!” and your kid would have understood.
Who do we call “teenagers”? Well, the word “teenager” refers to the group of children 13 through 19 years old, as their age ends in “teen”. This is a very important phase in their growth in which they prepare to become independent. They want to take risks and prove to everyone they have no fear. At this age, they also seek approval and acceptance from peers. He or she may want to go out more often. But teens also start to think a lot about the future, although they may not know all the unknowns of the equation and what it means to take full responsibility for their decisions.
What makes adolescence so overwhelming, though, is the transitioning from a child’s body into an adult’s body. Their bodies are full of hormones that mess up their minds at times. They can’t distinguish between love and sexual attraction. So, on the one side, you have the boys who become very angry, agitated, and independent. On the other side, girls become rebellious, trying to draw attention through a new hair color or wearing too much makeup. But don’t get caught in their trap! They may say they don’t need you anymore, when in fact, they need you more than ever and you can still make great lasting memories together. So, go on and read every teenage advice we could think of.
You want your kids to feel that you’re not treating them like little babies anymore. They don’t want to go to bed with their lovie, but they still need a good amount of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per night. So, you want to take that into consideration when instilling a curfew. And to make the transition more subtle, you can gradually increase the check-in time. Curfews are also a way of showing your teenage children that you trust them, that you know they will respect the rules and won’t make you worry about them. They should do their best to come home on time and they shouldn’t arrive later without your consent. While raising teenagers, eliminate any communication barriers between you: resentments, bad words, reproaches and the like.
Statistics from National Runaway Safeline reveal that one in seven teenagers are at risk of running away from home. More than 1 million minors runaway each year, three quarters of them being female. The main reason for running away? Family problems (including alcohol and drugs) or very tight rules. If you had a fight with your spouse, make up quickly! (Ideally, you shouldn’t fight in front of a small kid.) Also, if you feel you were too harsh on your kid, reassure him/her that everything you do, you do it out of love.
Teenagers talking back
As your kids grow, they will want to express their ideas and be taken seriously. They need someone who listens to what they say, but at the same time, they may not listen to what you tell them. They live under the impression that they know everything, so whenever you’re nagging them, they’ll have something to say, too. Their colorful language and rolling eyes will infuriate you, for sure. Try to keep your calm. Don’t give in! They’re talking back in order to make you change your mind or to avoid doing what you say. What may bother you most, though, is not what they say, but their inappropriate attitude and rudeness. At this age, teenagers are just learning how to assert themselves. Your job is to help them express their anger or disagreement without being rude.
It comes naturally. We have all been through this phase. They are developing their own personalities, so until they find their true self, they will probably do the exact opposite of what you say or expect from them. Rebelliousness, up to a point, is good and understandable, but when it puts their life and health at risk, then, as his/her parent, you have to step in.
There are a few warning signs, of course, such as isolation, opposition, anger, bad company, and poor academics. Rebellion may also be caused by poverty and low self-esteem.
As long as he/she doesn’t engage in risky behaviour, you should not suffocate your child by being too strict. But do call for special help if your child has life-threatening vices. Also, listen to their perspective and the motives behind their behavior. Remember that you are not alone. Many parents have to deal with teenage rebellion, which is a natural phase in their preparation to leave the nest. And many parents could use a good piece of teenage advice to get over this stressful phase.
“You catch more bears with honey than vinegar” goes another piece of teenage advice. Invite friends for dinner and try to identify the persons your teenage child should keep at a distance. Try to find who is the leader of his group of friends. If you feel anything suspicious, you may try to help your kid make new friends by enrolling him/her in various extracurricular activities. Keep an eye on everyone’s social media profiles to see what kind of lifestyle they embrace. Do they have the same family values? Or did you spot something that bothered you? Who your child befriends now may have a huge impact on his/her life later.
Dating as a teenager
You can’t control your teenager’s feelings. When love strikes, you’ll notice. At this age, though, they may not be able to distinguish between physical attraction and real love. They are only beginning to respond to their hormonal changes. Teenage pregnancy is a huge danger and something you want to avoid at all costs. According to CDC, girls between 15 and 19 years old gave birth to 194,377 babies in 2017. If your boy is inviting his girlfriend over, don’t let them be alone. Also, talk openly about the risks of pregnancy/STDs and what the consequences are. As you know, abstinence is the best protection. However, in today’s crazy environment, you can’t enforce it, so, when raising teenagers, you have to rely on education and open communication.
Teenager’s dress code
Girls are more likely to become fashion victims than boys. However, both sexes will be tempted to make a statement through their clothing. They may embrace a certain culture and dress accordingly (hip-hop culture, emo), or they may create their unique style. Make sure your daughter is not dressed too provocatively. And when you are attending various events and receptions together with your kids, dress your kids appropriately. They have to respect certain guidelines. Sometimes it’s not in their best interest to dress as they please. And the way they dress is also conveying a message about you, as their parents. You don’t have to wear expensive clothes to feel good, however, it is true that wearing certain brands gives you a sense of well being. However, people shouldn’t judge you about how good you are at raising teenagers based on their look. As you know, your teens will mature and will probably change their wardrobe completely.
Music industry’s impact on teenagers
It is believed that the study of a musical instrument may have an impact on a person’s IQ. You may have been the lucky parent of a prodigy, extremely talented and with an impressive musical ear. But as you probably know, he/she may choose a different career as an adult. You don’t have to push a prodigy to pursue a career he/she would not enjoy. However, the music industry is extremely powerful. As lust and love intertwine in most lyrics, teenagers may have a faulty image of what a relationship should look like. So don’t be surprised if they later choose to move in with their significant other prior to marriage.
The music industry also promotes “the ideal look” – a vision of perfection which many young girls try to copy. While the pressure to be good looking may also be felt by boys, too, eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, are more frequent among adolescent girls. No matter how thin they are, they will feel fat and will continue to starve themselves. Usually, they hide in the bathroom, throwing up what they eat, but the sounds are usually covered by the running water. If you think your daughter has a similar problem, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Surviving cyberbullying as a teenager
Parents raising teenagers are at war with the latest technologies. Most teenagers are allowed to have a cell phone and even a laptop. The norm is to have several profiles on social platforms, however, with so much public exposure comes the risk of befriending people they have never met. Cyberbullying is widespread among teenagers. They are threatened, offended and harassed, not only by strangers, but also by their peers. They might be afraid of compromising videos that might destroy their image. Or they might receive discouraging messages who push them into depression. Harsh words can hurt so bad that many commit suicide. According to USA Today, the suicide rate for teens ages 10 to 17 was 70% higher in 2016 than ten years ago. Talk with your teen about this real problem and remember the following teenage advice: they don’t have to befriend people they don’t know. Also, they shouldn’t take into consideration any negative comments from people who don’t know them personally. It is best not to take anything to heart at this age, though sometimes it might be difficult, since it really matters what others think about them.
Teen’s privacy and independence
As children grow up, they demand more and more space and push their parents away, trying to prove that they are smart enough. Parents of teens should also respect their privacy. Knocking on the door should be something normal in your house. Teenagers can be easily disturbed. They can’t stand you nagging them. You must understand that they are at an age where they no longer want to depend on you, but they still rely on you and want to know you’re there for them.
Communicating with teenagers may not come easy all the time. That’s why you may need a new routine in your home. For example, you may want to have dinner together as a family more often and discuss what happened during the day. By being open in front of your kids, you encourage them to feel comfortable about sharing their feelings and thoughts instead of internalizing and repressing their feelings.
Teenagers behind the wheel
Before reaching maturity, teens are allowed to drive cars and motorcycles. Two-wheel vehicles are generally more dangerous than a car as they offer no protection in a crash. Youths will often put themselves in dangerous situations, since they don’t properly evaluate the risks. They are after another adrenalin rush, and chances are you were like them, too. Of course, no parent would put their child’s life at risk, so your teen should patiently wait for a motorcycle until he/she becomes a fully responsible adult. Uncontrollable speed is the cause of most accidents produced by teens between 16 and 19 years old. Once your teen gets their driver’s license, you may want to discuss new rules regarding the monthly gas allowance and the roads he/she must avoid for their safety, such as highways and off-roads, as well as drifting competitions or other illegal races with friends.
It is highly recommended to install various apps that will tell you the velocity of the car driven by your child, as well as its location. Unfortunately, speedometer apps can’t prevent an accident, but at least you find out whether your child is a speeder or not. And another great piece of teenage advice would be to ask a car mechanic to set a speed limit.
Would you allow your teenage child to drive to school? Think about the fact that with this freedom, you may encourage him/her to skip classes. While a few unexcused absences shouldn’t bother you, once they become a problem and the school notifies you about them, you may have to restrict your kids’ access to the car. But why do teenagers like to break the rules and skip classes? Because they feel that some lessons they are being taught are of no use in the real life. Somehow, they know that our education system fails to prepare them for adulthood.
Most teens don’t know what career to choose. Trying a few jobs while still in school can give them an idea of what they might enjoy doing. Children 14 and 15 years old may only work three hours a day and no more than 18 hours a week. During the summer, they may work 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. However, certain time limits apply. Teens 16 and 17 years old enjoy more flexibility. However, they should be aware if the employer treats them as employees or self-employed/contractors. If the employer fills in form W2, all the taxes are deducted from their gross income, but they might have to pay self-employed taxes (15.3%) when the employer uses the W9 form. So our teenage advice for you would be to let your child work to slowly gain his financial independence. It will be a great experience. However, as a parent, you have to teach your child to put some money on the side and save for bigger goals. Teenagers will enjoy their independence and trustworthiness, for sure, but they will be tempted to spend everything they earn. Teach them to be responsible, thrifty and careful, since their success depends on their money habits.
Opening the first bank account
As soon as they start earning money, they’ll need a bank account. And after that, they’ll also want a debit card. However, don’t let them use a credit card before you make sure they understand how it works and how it builds their credit score. Sooner or later, they will become indebted, too, but you have to be next to them and help them make the best decisions with regard to their future earnings. It is also a good idea to open a Roth IRA account, since it’s less restrictive and one day may provide the money for a down payment for a house. Parents should be raising teenagers who know how the loans work and how they can take advantage of them, too.
Sex education for teens
According to CDC, almost half of youths have had an intimate sexual encounter before they turned 18. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise. Pornography is collecting new victims every day, and according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), children as young as 11 are exposed to sexual content. So, how can you protect your child from all the dangers of premarital sex? Well, first of all, you should encourage abstinence. They should be encouraged not to act upon their lust and hormones. Not too long ago, men courting women were more decent and shy. Today, couples don’t wait to get married to have sex. Moving together before marriage is just another step in a relationship.
It will be hard to convince your child of the right attitude he/she has to have toward sex, however, you can teach him/her how to protect himself/herself from contracting an STD. Pregnancies outside of a strong relationship are also far from the ideal scenario, so you have to discuss this sensitive issue, too. Prompt teenage advice on sexual relationships will spare them of many inconveniences.
Controlling screen time
If you could easily use screen time as a currency when your kids were smaller, as they grow, they are harder to manipulate. After a certain age, they take it for granted. So, to prevent the screens from interfering with their sleeping time, you should all stop going with your phones to bed. Be an example for your kids and they will follow you. Pay attention to the games they play as well as to the music they listen to. Then watch their behavior. Are they depressed? Are they more angry and violent? Don’t be afraid to ask for special help. Mental health is extremely important for the future adults. Also, plan fun activities for every weekend to boost their mood instead of letting them sit in front of a TV or watching Netflix. Family time is also important when raising teenagers. You can also take into consideration the possibility to have your own home gym – a room that will benefit every member of the household.
Adolescence only happens once. It’s only a few years long but has a lifelong impact. And it’s a tough period for parents, as well. If your child were a rock that needed to be shaped into something, most of the carving would take place now. It’s a tough transition for everybody. The frolicking children are on the path to become successful adults, leaving their parents behind in an empty nest full of memories. But if you manage to survive adolescence, you will do even better once the kids take their lives in their own hands.