An Amateur Mum’s 6 Step Guide to “Good” Teens.
Today my eldest daughter turns 16 and despite the bad press that teenagers get, I still really like her. So in honour of this momentous occasion I am going to give you my amateur mum tips on growing a teen that you like to be around. These are in no particular order.
1. Start ‘em young. Really your relationship with your teenager started from the moment they were born. Actually every interaction you have with your kids has an impact from the present onwards. Think about what sort of adult you want to raise and guide them to develop the tools they need to be that person from day 1.
2. Listen. Imagine trying to learn a new language without ever having heard it spoken (Yes, of course except sign language). Teens think in a different way to adults, if you want to understand them and be able to communicate effectively with them, you do need to put in the effort to understand their perspective of the world. Take some time to listen to what they are saying.
3. Replace judgment with love. Teenagers do and say stupid stuff all the time (trust me, we have 3 living under our roof. Some days the stupid rules supreme) some of it is just that their mouths work faster than their brains but one of the biggest contributor to the stupid is a lack of life experience. Being adult sized doesn’t instantly give rise to understanding context. Racist, sexist, demeaning, ableist dribble can pour form their mouths but more often than not it is not due to them being malicious, they just don’t realise what it is they are saying. Rather than jump on them and tell them not to say such horrible stuff, give them context but say it with love. Be gentle and understanding.
4. Accept that they are neither child nor adult. You might find them one minute wanting to play GTA and lego the next. The same is true for their emotional states. “Childish” emotion and behaviour is OK. (See point 2)
5. Be honest! You want your kids to help out around the house, when they ask be honest as to why. It is OK to tell your kids they need to do the dishes tonight because you have had a long day and you are really tired and being an adult is really hard. Most teenagers thrive on being trusted with your emotions. You also want your teen to be honest with you, so give them the sort of behavior you want them to mirror. “Do as I say, not as I do” has NEVER worked.
6. Give them permission to say NO. If they can’t practice saying NO to you in a situation where they feel safe, how are they ever going say NO under pressure?