What Do Adolescents Need in Regard to Parenting?

Reviewed on 6/10/2021

The teen years are an important and challenging time for a child's development as they prepare for adulthood. To help your teenager successfully navigate this stage, they need a stable home environment, mutual trust, open communication, age-appropriate independence, helpful attention, respect for their decisions, regular exercise, and their own sense of responsibility.
The teen years are an important and challenging time for a child's development as they prepare for adulthood. To help your teenager successfully navigate this stage, they need a stable home environment, mutual trust, open communication, age-appropriate independence, helpful attention, respect for their decisions, regular exercise, and their own sense of responsibility.

Every developmental stage of a child’s life requires different parenting skills. Adolescence can be a challenging time as children attempt to establish individuality and independence. The teen years will be less stressful for both children and parents if parents start establishing trust and honesty earlier in the relationship. 

While younger children need parents to take the lead, teenagers need an ally on their side as they learn to navigate the world more independently. There are some things adolescents need in regard to parenting that can help children manage this stage successfully:  

  • A stable, safe, loving home environment
    • Children need to feel safe and protected and to know their basic needs for food, clothing, and health care are met
    • Teens may test parental attempts to keep them safe by hanging out with “bad” influences, staying out late, or engaging in risky behavior 
    • They often need parents to talk about these things and meet them in the middle
    • Discuss concerns and what you would like to see them do, and also listen to their point of view
  • Honesty, mutual trust, and respect
    • Teenagers want to be noticed
    • When teens are moody and withdrawn, parents often ignore them which can make children think parents don’t care
  • Open communication 
    • Family meal times are an excellent opportunity to talk
    • Watch television together, go out as a family
    • Teens still value family time even when they don’t act like they do
  • Age-appropriate independence and assertiveness is permitted
    • Give teens choices and age-appropriate responsibilities
    • Teens often insist they can manage their own lives 
    • Don’t micromanage them – let children learn to make their own decisions and gradually take control
    • Work with them on what responsibility they can handle and allow them more independence as they show they can handle it
    • Teenagers can often rise to meet challenges
  • A relationship that encourages your child to talk to you
    • Talking openly is one of the most important aspects of the parent-child relationship
    • It takes time and understanding 
    • Parents should also try to spend one-on-one time with each individual child
    • Praise positive behaviors and discuss difficulties or upsets
  • Helpful attention
    • Show interest in who they are and what they are doing
    • Ask open-ended questions about their interests and accept them without judgment
    • Be responsive to them: listen when they want to talk
    • Let the teenager guide you on who they are and what they prefer rather than imposing your ideas on them (except in situations where their safety may be involved)
  • Respect for their decisions
    • Adolescence is a time when children have to make some choices, but their decisions are often based on inexperience 
    • Respect their choices by letting them know their thoughts are important, but also help guide them
    • Their point of view is important but parents can explain their thoughts and compromise in many cases
  • Regular exercise 
    • Teens may need support in staying active
    • If they are not involved in sports, make exercise a family activity 
  • Teaching:
    • Responsibility for both their belongings and yours
    • Responsibility for basic household chores
    • The importance of accepting limits
    • The importance of thinking before acting

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Reviewed on 6/10/2021
References
https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Parenting-Preparing-For-Adolescence-056.aspx

https://www.familylives.org.uk/advice/teenagers/you-and-your-teen/what-your-teenager-needs/