Parenting skills: Tips for raising teens

Helping an adolescent become a caring, independent and responsible adult is no small task. Understand the parenting skills you need to help guide your teen. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Adolescence can be a confusing time of change for teens and parents alike. But while these years can be difficult, there's plenty you can do to nurture your teen and encourage responsible behavior. Use these parenting skills to deal with the challenges of raising a teen.

Show your love

Positive attention is a must for teens. Spend time with your teen to show him or her that you care. Listen to your teen when he or she talks, and respect your teen's feelings. Don't assume that your teen knows how much you love him or her.

If your teen doesn't seem interested in bonding, keep trying. Regularly eating meals together might be a good way to connect. Better yet, invite your teen to prepare the meal with you. On days when you're having trouble talking to your teen, consider each doing your own thing in the same space. Being near each other could lead to the start of a conversation.

Keep in mind that unconditional love doesn't mean unconditional approval. You can discipline your teen while showing that you won't withdraw your love based on his or her behavior. If you're pointing out something that your teen could do better, keep your criticism specific to the behavior rather than making personal statements about your teen.

Set reasonable expectations

Teens tend to live up or down to parental expectations, so set your expectations high. But instead of focusing on achievements, such as getting straight A's, expect your teen to be kind, considerate, respectful, honest and generous.

When it comes to day-to-day accomplishments, remember that teens gain confidence through success, which can prepare them for the next challenge. As your teen takes on more difficult tasks, instead of setting the bar yourself, support him or her to determine what he or she can handle. If your teen comes up short, react supportively and encourage him or her to recover and try again. It's more important to praise your teen's effort than the end result.

Encourage cybersafety

Get to know the technology your teen is using and the websites he or she visits. Keep the computer in a common area in your home. Remind your teen to practice these basic safety rules:

  • Don't share personal information online.
  • Don't share passwords.
  • Don't get together with someone you meet online.
  • Don't use texts or other tools to gossip, bully or damage someone's reputation.
  • Don't text or chat on the phone while driving.
  • Don't plagiarize.
  • Talk to a parent or trusted adult if an interaction or message makes you uncomfortable.
Feb. 15, 2014 See more In-depth