Parenting an Adolescent


Tales from the Parent Zone

It's worthwhile to spend time listening to your child, even when you disagree (or, worse yet agree but want to move on to another topic). When my stepson was a teenager, he often wanted a forum for his burgeoning political and social ideas. Some of his thoughts weren't yet well developed, but it was important that he be heard, and that he knew that his thoughts and thought process were respected by us. The older he got, the better his argumentation, and the deeper his perceptions.

Stress, stress, stress. Yet what do far too many adolescents do? Stress their bodies even more through eating poorly, not sleeping well, playing too many computer games, drinking, and smoking. You can help by teaching him coping strategies. Enroll him in a yoga class, spring for a massage, get him involved in a volunteer effort. By diversifying your teen's activities, you may find at least one area in a teen's life that is stress free. Kids (and adults) can also learn to rely on self-relaxation techniques.

Gaining Distance

You'll be happiest and probably most effective as a parent of an adolescent if you can remove yourself psychologically (even just a bit) from your child's plight. It's his angst! (If you are getting gray hairs over your child's adolescent agonies, you're probably not doing this.) You'll also do better if you can distance yourself just enough that you're not as invested in how well behaved or successful your child is. Is this possible? Probably not completely, but it's something to strive for.

It's a Good Idea!

Enlist yourself as your adolescent's ally. Let her know that you know life is difficult, and that you are available to help her figure it out. (You're not in charge of figuring it out!

Look to Your Child

So much of what we do for our kids in general is in response to our own needs and experiences. If you wanted to be doctor but were foiled in your interests, you might push med school. Don't give him what you needed, give him what he needs.

Positive Reframing

Adolescents can be as infuriating as little kids, and it's helpful for both of you to stay as positive as you can. It applies for big kids as well.

When Life Gets Hard

How a kid handles her stress and her developmental tasks depends on the child. Ava L. Siegler writes that kids have five basic responses to the stresses and fears of adolescence: anxiety, rebellion, depression, withdrawal, or overattachment. All kids will experience some or all of these responses, and the only time to really worry is if your child gets “stuck” in one of them. If your child doesn't seem to be moving through to a resolution, it's time to get some outside help.

<< Previous: Influencing

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks