Creating a Home Where Teens Want to Be
Raising teens is not an easy task. Teens can be difficult to understand and to get along with, which means that conflict is bound to happen! If you want a more peaceful homelife or a teen who is more connected to the family, you should consider whether or not you are creating an environment that a teen wants to be in… at least most of the time. Does your teen feel accepted for who they are? Does your teen feel supported? Is your home safe, loving and fun? Does your teen truly believe you will love them no matter what? Your adolescent must feel fully accepted in their own home to want to be there.
Creating a loving and accepting environment for a teen is one of the best defenses against the risky behaviors that many teens fall prey to. Parents who seek to understand their teen, be curious about their interests, and meet their need for belonging usually have a close relationship with their teen.
If you want to create an accepting and supportive environment that will meet your teen’s needs, here are our top 15 tips:
- Treat teens like you would like to be treated. Show them respect. Role model the behaviors you want.
- Don’t lie to your teen – they almost always figure it out and it will ruin any chance that they will trust you.
- Eat a meal together every day if you are able. It is a great way to connect with your teens and studies have shown a wide range of benefits.
- Be quick to forgive.
- Collaborate on rules. Your teen is more likely to comply with rules they helped set up. Make sure that rules are consistently enforced for everyone in the household.
- Practice active listening. You must hear what your child has to say without interrupting, judging, arguing or getting defensive. Validate their feelings. You do not have to agree with them, but seek to understand their viewpoint.
- Praise your teen whenever they work hard or try to make a positive change.
- Do NOT try to be your teen’s friend. You can become friends when they become a young adult, but during adolescence, they need a parent. Say “no” when it’s necessary, and say “yes” when it’s possible. Earn their trust and love like you would with any other person.
- Be careful what you say. Words are powerful, and family wounds are deep and hurt longer than others. Avoid all comments or gestures that invoke shame…like looks of disapproval or comments like “how can you say that or think that?” You can disagree with a teen but do not turn your disagreement into a message that implies they are a bad person for thinking that way.
- Pick your battles. Not everything matters. Let your teen have freedom with most things – like clothing and hair styles – but have firms rules in place on the important stuff, such as dating, internet use, drugs, alcohol, drinking and driving, etc. Don’t nag or lecture. When you continually harp on every little misdeed, teens tune you out. Better to pick two or three important issues, and ask them, “How can we solve this together?”
- Don’t do chores or clean-up for them. It’s tempting to break down and do it yourself, but the only thing you’re teaching your teen is that you really don’t think he’s responsible or capable.
- Follow through on consequences. Every single time. If you don’t, kids know that your words are meaningless. Don’t dole out consequences in the heat of an argument. Wait until you’ve both cooled down, so that you can choose a consequence you can live with. For example, it’s more effective to take away the car keys than to not allow them to go to the Homecoming dance, as you may not want to follow through on taking that opportunity away from your teen. Additionally, skip the lectures. Don’t talk about the consequence – just enact it and let your actions speak to your teen.
- Do not demand perfection. Teens are going to make mistakes; it is a natural part of growing up. Let them know you will still be there when they stumble and fall. Help them discover what they can learn from the failure to become better, rather than shaming them for the mistake. Tell your child about the mistakes you’ve made and what you wish you had done differently.
- Look for teachable moments instead of sitting down and having serious, awkward conversations with your kids. Use TV shows, the news, celebrities, the behavior of other people you know as starting points for a deeper conversation. You can discuss media and culture as a way to explore healthy relationships, sex, alcohol and drugs, resilience, gangs, abuse, how to avoid mistakes, and what you think the right response to a bad situation is. Teens are much more willing to talk about difficult topics when it’s not accusatory or focused on their own behavior.
- Every day, tell your teen that you love them and give them a hug. It is especially important to spend one-on-one time with each of your children to let them know that they are important as individuals.