Early Teen (age 13-15 years)
Parenting an early teen is a lot like parenting a toddler in some ways. The developmental stage is all about moving toward independence, not always gracefully or responsibly.
We can't change our child's basic personality, and the outside environment has a profound effect, from peers to school to media. But how we parent makes the critical difference in how our teen acts, from how rebellious he is to whether she throws emotional tantrums, from whether he gets enough sleep to how studious she is.
If we can manage our own emotions, extend respect, offer appropriate freedom, and maintain intimacy and communication -- a tall order for most parents -- we can be pleasantly surprised by how rewarding the teen years can be. The rewards are huge, as we watch our child transform and blossom in front of our eyes.
Your game plan for navigating adolescence with minimum drama and maximum connection. (Read article)
Much of the same advice applies that was true when he was a toddler: Reconnect every day, and don't wait when you see there's repair work to be done. (Read article)
The teen years are notoriously challenging for parents. Much like the toddler years, kids sometimes seem intent on doing exactly the opposite of what we ask, for some of the same reasons: Their job now is to find their sea legs as a person, to shape an identity, to sort out what's important to them. Their integrity would be compromised by simply doing what we ask because we ask it. They need to believe it's the right thing for THEM. (Read article.)
It's appropriate for teens to want to spend more time with their peers than their parents as they get older, but kids who are well grounded in their families will respond well to parents' efforts to stay connected. And parents who have bonded adequately with their children at each earlier stage will feel invested enough in their teens to stay connected, even if a lot of effort is required. It’s critical, during the teen years, for parents to remain their children’s emotional and moral compass. (Read article.)
Bullying is preventable, and you can bully-proof your child -- and keep him from becoming a bully. (Read article.)
Parents are the most important influence on whether kids drink alcohol, and the earlier you start these conversations, the better. Kids whose parents teach them the risks of using drugs and alcohol are half as likely to use them. Don't wait until your kids are teens before you have these conversations. This is a topic you'll want to revisit over the years as your child reaches new levels of understanding -- and temptation. (Read article.)
The only leverage we ever really have with our children is their love for us. It's never too late to build a great relationship with your child. (Read article)
The more frequently teens eat dinner with their families the better they do in school, the happier they say they are, and the less likely they are to get involved with drugs, alcohol, sex, or vandalism. Don't expect your teen to open up a lot at the dinner table, but use it as a foundation for your relationship, so he or she WILL open up to you during those car rides, or late-night talks that teens seem to love. (Read article)
Even if you could hover over your child and help him navigate every obstacle, it wouldn't be good for him. He has to use his own judgment and draw on his own internal resources now. (Read article)
Most tweens and teens regretfully report that there are things about which they can’t talk with their parents, because their parents won’t listen, won’t understand, or will over-react. But believe it or not, there are parents whose kids who talk to them, and even ask their advice, even as teenagers. This web site is dedicated to the possibility that you could be one of those parents. (Read article)
Some psychologists think values are impossible to teach, and it is certainly true that telling kids to be more honest, or diligent, or considerate, doesn’t work any better than telling adults to be. But if values are impossible to teach, they are too important to leave to chance. (Read article.)
Have a question about parenting your young teen? Questions from readers, with wise and practical solutions from Dr. Laura Markham to the worst problems your teenager can dish out! (Read article)