Is positive parenting a teenager possible?

As parents, we often hear from “parenting experts” that we should be using “positive parenting.”  If you have a teenager at home, you have probably thought, “Yeah, right. You come over and try to be positive will the mood-swinging, eye-rolling, rebellious creature living in my home.” But there is new information out that may encourage us to do just that.

New Study Suggests Positive Parenting Impacts Generations

A new study just released from Oregon State University shows that positive parenting not only has a positive impact on teenagers, but also on the way they parent their own children. The researchers examined three generations of Oregon families since 1984. They identified 206 boys who were considered “at-risk” for juvenile delinquency and met with and observed them every year from age 9 to 33. The boys’ parents and eventual spouses and children participated in the study.

CB103947In this study, positive parenting included factors such as warmth and affection, monitoring of children’s activities, involvement and consistency of discipline. In other words, positive parenting isn’t just the absence of hostility and lack of follow-through.

Much research has shown that negative parenting produces children that are more likely to be antisocial and delinquent as youth. Boys with these traits as teenagers are more likely to be inconsistent and ineffective parents and to have children with more negative behaviors.  What surprised the researchers of this study is that the link from positive parenting experiences was just as strong as the negative. The researchers found that children whose parents had used positive parenting techniques were more likely to have close relationships with their peers, be more engaged in school, and have better self-esteem. These traits in adolescence led to better parenting for the next generation. So, how you parent your children will ultimately impact your grandchildren.

Positive Parenting Tips

The Centers for Disease Control have released a series of tips for positive parenting adolescents. Here are some examples from their list:

  • Trust is important for teenagers. Even as he or she develops independence, your teen will need to know he or she has your support. At the same time, the child will need you to respect his or her need for privacy.
  • Be honest and direct with your teenager when talking about sensitive subjects such as drugs, drinking, smoking, and sex. Help your teenager plan ahead for difficult or uncomfortable situations. Discuss what he or she can do if offered a ride from someone who has been drinking, if they feel under pressure to have sex, or if he or she is in a group and someone is using drugs.
  • Meal time is very important for families. Eating together helps teenagers make better choices about the foods they eat, promotes healthy weight, and gives your family time to talk to each other. In addition, a teenager who eats meals with the family is more likely to have better grades and less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
  • Stay involved in your teen’s life, even if they act as though they don’t want you to. Meet and get to know your teenager’s friends. Show an interest in your teenager’s school life and extracurricular activities.
  • Respect your teenager’s opinions and take into account her thoughts and feelings. It is important that she knows you are listening to her. Listen to him without playing down his concerns.
  • Compliment your teenager and celebrate her efforts and accomplishments.
  • Show affection for your teenager. Spend time together doing things you both enjoy.
  • Encourage your teenager to volunteer and become involved in civic activities in her community.
  • Encourage your teenager to develop solutions to problems or conflicts. Help your teenager learn to make good decisions. Create opportunities for him to use his own judgment, and be available for advice and support.

Not all of these suggestions will work for every teen or fit with every family, and certainly some are easier to implement than others. Maybe you can find one tip that you feel comfortable working on and with that small step see a difference in your interactions with your teen. Perhaps one day you will see your grown-up son or daughter use that same technique with your grandchild and all that hard work will have paid off.

One comment

  • I totally agree with your comments. I now have 4 adult children and one 9 year old. As our children move into and then through their teenage years everyday is a challenge. They will constantly push the boundaries and exploit any weakness or inconsistency they find.

    A changing point in my experience of parenting was the book and the movie “The Secret” The principles, ideas and strategies in this just blew my mind and I immediately tried to implement all these into my role as a parent of teenagers. I was then lucky enough to stumble on the “Inspired Parenting Course” and this changed my world. The course is by 5 teachers from “The Secret” and they take the principles of “The Secret” and apply them directly to parenting strategies for teenagers. Just brilliant!

    If you would like to know more then visit

    Ian Knabel

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