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

One of the most important parenting skills needed for raising healthy teens involves positive attention. 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. Also, keep in mind that only reprimanding your teen and never giving him or her any justified praise can prove demoralizing. For every time you discipline or correct your teen, try to compliment him or her twice.

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. You might also encourage your teen to talk to other supportive adults, such as an uncle or older cousin, for guidance.

Minimize pressure

Don't pressure your teen to be like you were or wish you had been at his or her age. Give your teen some leeway when it comes to clothing and hairstyles. It's natural for teens to rebel and express themselves in ways that differ from their parents.

If your teen shows an interest in body art — such as tattoos and piercings — make sure he or she understands the possible health risks, such as skin infections, allergic reactions, and hepatitis B and C. Also talk about potential permanence or scarring.

As you allow your teen some self-expression, remember that you can still maintain high expectations for your teen and the kind of person he or she will become.

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