Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These 3 Things Around Your Teen

When it comes to raising a teenager, it’s safe to say that nothing is necessarily easy—in fact, the journey can be just plain frustrating! If this sentiment rings true for you at the moment, then we have some expert advice for you today that may just help you keep your cool through those tough adolescent years.

Here are 3 things that you should never do to your teenager…

Be constantly unavailable

We’re not just talking about a busy work schedule here; even stay-at-home parents can be guilty of being either emotionally unavailable or just plain distracted. While experts agree that teens may not necessarily mind the distraction, the behavior can lead to detachment, depression, or lack of identity as they transition into adulthood.

Now, we know better than anyone how trying it can be to get a teen to open up about their friendships, first loves, and school work, but it is possible. Aha Parenting has it right when they say that a no-pressure technique works best. Here is what they advise:

Find ways to be in proximity where you’re both potentially available, without it seeming like a demand. This may seem obvious, but stating your availability invites contact that might not otherwise occur:

“I’ll be in the study working if you want me” or “I have to run to the grocery store, but don’t hesitate to call my cell phone if you need me.”

 It may feel awkward or unnatural at first, especially if your kid is prone to eye-rolling, but once the habit is made, your adolescent may just feel comfortable enough to take up on your offer.

Dismiss their ambitions

Every teenager has dreams, whether they be big or small, and it’s only natural for parents to feel some trepidation when they first hear their young adult proclaim: “I want to be a(an)…”

Let’s say you have a child who wants to be an Olympic runner when they grow up. It’s an honorable ambition, but what if he or she is very gifted at science, and a physics teacher thinks the teen has a good shot at receiving a college scholarship to a distinguished university?

It can be a tough predicament and one that certainly requires attention, but maybe not the kind that you would naturally be inclined towards— i.e. pushing!

So, if you find yourself in a place where you feel that your child needs a good nudge, or some clarity when it comes to a future career, follow the advice of Robert Hellman, a Manhattan career consultant and teacher at NYU.

He tells The New York Times that the key to helping your kid is to get them to recall the top seven instances in their lives that were most impactful for them.

Once he or she has pinpointed them, ask the teen these questions: “What is it that you enjoyed about this? What do you feel you did best? Why did you do it? What was your relationship in those activities with other people?”

It’s a simple exercise that can both build trust and communication, as well as help him or her come to a conclusion on their own. The end result may not exactly fit into the model that you want for your child, but it will assist your teen in making important life decisions that are rooted in experience, and not dreams.

Constantly criticize

dad yells at teen drinking coffeeyacobchuck1 via Deposit Photos
Perhaps not surprisingly, psychologists who specialize in adolescent behavior say that criticizing teens only makes matters worse. Carl Pickhardt, PhD., an author and Austin-based psychologist, recognizes that while it’s “tempting” to criticize when he or she is not behaving, but opposition is a natural form of development that parents must recognize.

OK, we know what you are saying; kids are meant to be corrected, right? While we most definitely agree that a teen should not be allowed to dress, do, or say exactly what they want at all times, it also doesn’t mean that a parent is allowed to use disparaging language towards him or her.

In an article in Psychology Today, Pickhardt asserts that it is a parent’s role to “not attack character, but decisions.” For instance, instead of telling your disorganized teen that they are, simply, “messy,” say something like this, “We know that you dislike doing chores more now that you are older, but we still need to have them done.”

Sure, it’s a strategy that probably won’t garner immediate results, but it is an important step in removing toxic elements from a relationship.

happy teen and mom huggingIrelynkiss via Flickr
Phew! Now that we’ve shared some of our favorite advice, we’d like to hear from you. Do you have any tips for keeping a copacetic relationship with your teen? How did you help him or her choose a career path? Is there anything on this list you disagree with?