Nothing is more fulfilling and satisfying as a parent then the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. If you are like most parents, you have spent months (or even years) preparing for your newborn by reading all the books you can get your hands on and taking all the classes that will teach you how to be a good mother.
However, when a child reaches the ages of twelve and thirteen, many parents find themselves ill-prepared to handle the challenges that come with raising a teenager. When your child is between the ages of three and eleven, for the most part, they listen to you without question. Sure, you may get a temper tantrum every now and then, but generally speaking, your child will abide by your requests and decisions.
But when a child reaches the teenage years, this can change very drastically where all of a sudden they no longer follow your decisions blindly. They begin to question you a bit and test their boundaries to see what they can and cannot get away with.
If you want to ensure that you continue to have a healthy and strong relationship with your child when they enter this stage of their life, here are two things you are going to want to consider:
1. Structure & Discipline
When your teenager gets to the age where they begin to think they are invincible and can get away with anything, this is where it is critical for you to make sure that you have established some clear boundaries with them about what is expected with regards to their behavior. Your teenager is going to do everything they can to try and see how far they can push you and so it is important that you keep a short leash on them so that they know that there are still rules and guidelines that must be followed.
“This can be a very difficult stage in the relationship because many parents want to be their child’s friend and don’t want to have to be the bad guy”, says Sam Miller, a therapist for teenagers. “During this phase of your child’s life, it’s important to remember that for now, you will have to be tough on them for their own good. They will thank you later for it when they are older and have a broader perspective on life where they can now understand why you were being so strict. And this is when you can truly be their friend.” Remember, teenagers need and desire structure and discipline even if they fight you every step of the way.
2. Positive Communication
When children are between the ages of three and ten, their vocabulary is fairly rudimentary and they can express their emotions in very simple ways. While they might become angry or frustrated, their needs and wants are fairly simple which does not require you to have to invest much time to speak with them about certain situations.
This dramatically changes for teenagers who now not only have a much deeper grasp of their vocabulary, but their emotional needs begin to broaden which is going to require you as a parent to have to invest more time to speak with them when challenges arise. When it comes to addressing conflict or tough decisions, it is important you as a parent remain calm and positive throughout the interaction. More than just your words, but your emotions and energy will teach your teenager how difficult interactions should be addressed in a healthy and constructive manner.