pareting tips for teenagers

I often say to friends and other parents that I meet, that I feel I am back in parenting 101 with my first teenager now. I didn’t for one minute think I had the parenting gig completely sorted, but having done the rounds a couple of times of the different age groups, I was certainly comfortable with my parenting for these ages and stages.

Not so for my parenting of the teenager. And he is a good kid. He is just kid who is testing the boundaries, looking to explore his world, forming his own views and opinions and fairly regularly driving me crazy with attitude and behaviour.

In Conversation

At a New Year’s eve party, (thanks Cath and Pete for a wonderful time!) I was lucky enough to catch up with a friend, Maria, who I had not seen for some time. Maria has a daughter one year older than my son. I find when I am in social situations now I am quite drawn to parents with older kids and seeking out their experience and advice on handling teenagers.

Maria had some great advice that she had picked up the year before at a presentation at her daughter’s school. She said that teenagers at this age (14) want to do one of two things when it comes to having a discussion with them:

They want to either have the last word or be the loudest.

And I have found this to be so true. In discussions where I was talking with him about something he has (or hasn’t) done, I had noticed that they would go on for such a long time, for what really should have been a very short conversation. I had been falling into the trap of engaging in further discussion when it wasn’t needed because I would want to respond to his last word.

Now I am listening to his last word, but letting him have it. Most of the time there is absolutely no need for me to respond to what he is saying – responding is just being drawn back in to debate or talking semantics of my request, which he just needs to get on and do.

Similarly with the loudness. I had also fallen into the trap of increasing my volume to his. Our discussion are so much better when I remain calm and use a quieter voice. It prevents the complete ramp up in our conversations that had been happening.

Getting Physical

This is one you know about boys, but I think it is particularly relevant for our eldest at the moment – he needs to get physical. When we were away he was constantly wrestling his younger brother in the pool, who being 2.5 years his junior, did get pretty sick of this after a while. He likes to pick up the 4 year old and chuck him over his shoulder or carry him upside down. He like to grab the 6 year old and put him in a headlock and pretend to trap him.

The physicalness is all well intended – he just wants to play with them, but it doesn’t always work out that way. At one point during the time away I said to the 11 year old that we needed to hire another 14 year old boy, so he could wrestle him!

My approach to this one, is to make sure his dad is providing some of this for him (he wasn’t with us for most of our time away) and that he has plenty of time with friends his own age. We have also had many conversations about tempering his strength and listening to what his siblings are telling him. If they ask him to stop – he has to stop.

So these are my key tips from my journey as a parent to a teenage boy at the moment. I will update more through the year as I learn more!

And as I do in real life, I would love to hear your tips on parenting teenagers, so please let me know what has worked for you.

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9 comments...read them below or add one

  • Deb @ Home life simplified January 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Fantastic post Nic – I have a fast-approaching-10 year old daughter and I am at that stage where I know I need to be listening to those with kids a bit older as I enter a new arena. For us it is all about hormone changes right now (even my just about to turn 8 year old daughter is starting just like her older sister did at that age) – emotional issues, fighting, crying – all over nothing (and even worse is they don’t understand it themselves). I don’t think we ever have it all figured out as parents as the new stage always presents a learning curve as we all find our way together. Can’t wait for part 2!

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Thanks Deb. I so agree about the continuos learning – parenting is certainly not dull!

  • Jennifer January 24, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Thank you! I have a fifteen year old, and I am really struggling at times, he always has to have the last word, and I, like you, would get into debates with him. Is it enough to ensure I have expressed my view and leave it at that, will I have had any influence on him? I am also unsure why he has such impatience with my 13 year old daughter, they seem to niggle at each other constantly and can’t hold a civilized conversation with each other. She knows how to provoke him and he is so snappy with her. Please keep the teenage advice and tips coming, this is new territory for me, hoping by the time my youngest of the four is a teen I will know how to deal with these issues.

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2013 at 7:37 am

      “Is it enough to ensure I have expressed my view and leave it at that, will I have had any influence on him?” – I have really pondered this too and I think it is. I often find with my teenager, he knows very well he has done the wrong thing and just wants to move on. It is tricky new territory isn’t it??

  • Katie Lang January 24, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Well, I certainly don’t have any teenagers living at home, but as a high school teacher, I employ the Bill Rogers principle of ‘tactical ignoring’. Not responding to the comments they make under their breath! Also the concept of ‘picking your fights’! Actually, there does seem to be a lot of similarities to parenting a 2 year old and a 13 year old it seems!

    I really liked your comment about the last voice or the loudest! Good one to remember. Good challenge to not fall into their trap!!

    Thanks Nicole!

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

      I need to do more of “tactical ignoring” – thanks for the heads up on that one Katie.

      And I completely agree with the choosing your battles and the similarities with teenagers and toddlers. Both stages where pushing the boundaries is at its peak!

  • jodi January 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

    yes yes yes – parenting a teenager is the hardest thing I have (yet) done. I was a high school teacher and a boarding school teacher, and I thought I knew teens! but my own are really tough. I see your quote of Celia Lashlie – if you have the chance, go and listen to her speak – brilliant, challenging, funny and knows about teenage boys! I highly recommend her book: He’ll Be Ok – Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men. I’ve just realised, that I will be raising teens for the next 15 years …

  • Jeannie January 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I’ve been taking a parenting class specifically for teens and it has changed my whole outlook on life and parenting. I highly recommend everyone read this book that we use in my class, even if you are getting along with your teen there are still great tips.

    “How to Deal With Your Acting-Up Teenager” by Robert Bayard

  • Janet Dubac January 29, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips. Sometimes, my son is really difficult to understand and I don’t know what to do. Sometimes, I just ignore him (which I think is a bad thing) because I don’t know how to handle some situations especially when we argue about things. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. I am really learning a lot from this. :)