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Parenting Teenagers: Tips On Starting High School
 by:
Aurelia Williams

Teenagers all over the world will take the leap from child to young adult this fall. They will be entering High School for the first time. This milestone brings a variety of feelings and emotions. They are beginning four of the most difficult, yet most memorable years of their life. If you think you are anxious and scared, try being your teen.

Here are a few Parenting Teenager tips on how to make the best of this stressful and confusing time in your teenager’s life.

Be Open and Understanding

Realize that your teen is going to be stressed and irritable for the first few weeks of their freshman year. There are many things that can contribute to your teen’s moodiness or withdrawn state. They are experiencing numerous changes in their life; all at the same time. Just like when you are pushed to your max with stress, your teen may experience headaches, stomachaches, or sleepiness. They need time and space to figure it all out in their own mind. Be patient and give them the time they need to sort things out for themselves.

Be Available and Reassuring

They may be young adults with a need to start making more decisions on their own and taking on more responsibility, but that doesn’t mean that they are full blown adults with minds that can handle all the stress and pressure of taking on those tasks. Reassure them that you are there when they need you and also how to “back off” when necessary so they can figure things out for themselves.

Your teenager is just that, a teen. You need to let them know that you trust them to make their own decisions. Let them know that you are always there should they get stuck and need a helping hand from someone they trust. Show them in ways other than saying things such as, “I’m here if you want to talk.” It’s not always easy for a teenager to start up a serious conversation, especially with Mom or Dad. There are times when you need to get creative. Depending on your teen that may mean writing a letter or taking them shopping and talking about what’s going on in their life while driving.

Be Supportive and Loving

Your teenager is no longer the ‘big dog’, but instead a ‘newbie’. Teenagers need to know that Mom and/or Dad support their decisions. They may have a difficult time fitting in; therefore, the need to try new things is necessary and helps them to figure out who they are. As long as the activity is not detrimental to them or anyone else, let them try a new sport, club, or other extracurricular hobby.

Support them in their decision, even if you know in the long run they will not participate next year. Give them the opportunity to find out for themselves if they enjoy certain activities. Remind them that family is something that will always be there. They are moving away from you as a parent but not disconnecting with the family completely and that’s ok.

Set Routines and Limits

Yes, they may be growing up, but they aren’t adults yet. Even teenagers need routines and limits. It will help to make the transition to high school easier on both of you if make limits together before the first week of school. Sit down and tell your child what your expectations are and really listen to their expectations of you as well. Settle on certain guidelines and routines that make both of you happy with the end result. This not only puts your mind at ease, but will also show your teen that you acknowledge that they are capable of making sound decisions and taking other’s considerations into account.

Parenting Teenagers can be a trying time and high school can seem overwhelming for them. Share in the good times and be there to lean on for the bad. Before you know it, you’ll be catching that cap and tassel at your teen’s graduation.

Parenting Your Teenager - Peer Pressure For Teenagers During Their High-School Years
 by:
Christina Botto

 

Your teenager faces several areas of peer pressure during his or her high school years.

What makes it even harder for your teenager is that most parents do not understand the depths to which these pressures go.

Cigarettes and Alcohol

Cigarettes and alcohol more than likely will be among the first areas which your teenager will have to face peer pressure. With movies and television flashing images of underage smoking and drinking, most teenagers are shown only the more enjoyable and funny sides of these habits.

High school years are very competitive, and where your teenager stands on the popular scale with the rest of his or her peers is very important. To be considered a "looser" is one of the biggest fears of today's teenager.

To avoid this label they sometimes will portray an image of being tough, rebellious and uncontrolled by their parents. For today's teenagers, smoking and drinking are the easiest ways to declare their independence.

Drugs

A more dangerous and potentially life-threatening pressure teens face is drugs. The first and most commonly available is marijuana. This is a cheap and readily-available drug in today's society, and most teenagers do not consider it harmful. In their eyes it does not cause serious addictions like heroin or methamphetamines. The marijuana use depicted in movies and television does not show teenagers that marijuana is illegal and that being caught under the influence or in possession of such an item can ruin their future. Additionally, smoking marijuana may lead to more serious drugs such as heroin, crack or methamphetamines.

Sex

Every year the age at which teenagers begin having sex gets younger and younger. In order to be popular or liked by boys, a girl must be willing to have sex. Otherwise, they are considered "up-tight" and are paid no attention. Boys who are not willing to have casual sex with a girl are considered weak. Oral sex has become very popular among today's teenager due to teens' belief believe that it isn't serious since there is no risk of pregnancy.

What Parents Can Do

Telling your teenager not to give into these peer pressures will have little or no effect. Your teenager equates his popularity among his friends with his self worth. The more insecure your teenager is, the more likely he will give into these pressures to be accepted and popular.

Threats and punishment by parents put additional pressure on teenagers. Now they face the pressure from their peers on one side and the threats from their parents on the other side. Trying to avoid or ease some of the pressure, teenagers may avoid contact with their parents or lie to them.

Instead, you should recognize that fitting in and not being called a looser is a very serious and important to your teen. Convey to your teen that you understand the pressures she is facing. Offer to open discuss situations and incidents - without the threat of punishment or judgment. This will encourage your teenager to talk and lead them to trust you for advice about specific issues they are facing. By openly discussing the pressures they are facing with you, you will have a chance to voice your concerns and your opinion. Your teenager will be far more receptive to your suggestions if situations are discussed peacefully.

Be open with your teenager about all forms of sexual intercourse. Explain that there are other reasons not to become sexually involved too early. Besides worrying about pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, remind your teenager that they also need to consider their pride and self respect.

What Parents Should Know About Teens And Teasing At School
 by: Sintilia Miecevole

For most teens, going back to school means sharing classrooms and a building with many other students. Unfortunately some learners have to deal with inappropriate behavior such as teasing. Teasing is the act of harassing someone playfully or maliciously, especially by ridicule. It is hurtful and potentially dangerous.

Judy S. Freedman’s book "Easing the Teasing" is very helpful for dealing with children’s teasing issues. It specifically helps parents learn strategies to help their children deal with teasing. Some of the suggested strategies can also be used successfully with teens so it’s definitely a recommended title for parents and educators to peruse. This article is not going to describe the strategies so well explained by Freedman. The goal of this article is to impress on parents the reality of teasing in our school system and how schools in general undertake to deal with discipline and behavior management issues. From this understanding it is hoped that parents will be are more able to work collaboratively with their teen and school personnel should a problem arise.

Due to the differing sizes of elementary and secondary schools, it can generally be asserted that during the elementary school years there is more of a ‘handle’ on teasing than in secondary schools. That is certainly not to say that secondary schools are ignoring the problem. For example, secondary schools may have home room teachers discuss such topics with students; there may be the occasional guest speaker such as a police liaison who addresses the students on this or a similar topic and, faculty are surely expected to reinforce standards of appropriate behavior. Administrative personnel at many schools use an electronic system to track inappropriate student behavior - usually serious incidents. Grade-level meetings are also commonly scheduled to discuss student achievement, work habits and if relevant to the former, behavior. The main challenge in most secondary schools however, is that each teacher typically instructs over a hundred students daily so it’s understandably difficult to monitor, document and discuss student behavior with colleagues on a consistent basis.

Parents who notice a sudden change in their teen’s behavior should consider contacting the school counselor and home room teacher to investigate whether or not the student is having trouble at school. It is important to note that even if a student consistently earns good grades, all may not be going well for the young scholar; they may have other challenges at school. Because teens might try to hide a problem with teasing, parents need to be extremely vigilant in their observation, listening and conversation. Teasing is hurtful and potentially dangerous. It is a form of bullying. Low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders and in the extreme, teen suicide are possible results. Experiencing harassment in this form – whether it is done ‘playfully’ or maliciously, is clearly a serious problem that must be dealt with.

Teen & Parent Chat: 6 Ways To Communicate Clearly With Your Teen
 by: Christine McGogy

Hi Parents,

How would you like to have a closer relationship with your teen again?

Your ability to communicate effectively with your teen is one of the most precious skills you can develop to achieve this goal.

When we think of communication, we tend to think only of the way we can express ourselves. While that is certainly important, listening is the single most crucial of all communication skills.

As a mother of two teenage boys, I know that it isn't always easy to communicate well with your teen.

It's particularly frustrating when they aren't talking to you. However, when I started applying these techniques to our lives, I found that we started getting along better almost immediately. With less arguing between us, our relationship became stronger.

1. Make Your Teen Your Focus

Give your teens your full attention. I know that this is a toughie, because we tend to be so busy. It seems as if we are always multi-tasking. However, it is important in clear communicating that you make a point of stopping what you are doing and really listen to your teens (rather than just hearing him).

When you give your teens your undivided attention, they will know that you care, because you took the time to listen, thereby increasing the chances that they will listen to you.

2. Get the Details

Hear what your teen is really saying! Teens tend to give terse answers to questions, leaving out details that may be important. It's up to you to be able to get them to open up and draw them into a conversation.

Here is an example:

Teen: "I hate my teacher!"
Parent: "Oh, you don't really mean that!"
Teen: "Yes, I do. I double hate him!"
Parent: "Well, I don't want to hear that kind of talk. I am sure you don't really hate him!"
Teen: "Yes, I do so. I hate all teachers!"
Parent: "Do you think hating your teachers is going to get you a good mark?"

And on and on the arguing goes….

Here’s an alternative:

Teen: "I hate my teacher!"
Parent: "Wow, you don't normally hate anybody. What did he do to get you talking like that?"
Teen: "A couple of kids didn't have their homework finished again today, so he decided to punish all of us by giving us a math test tomorrow!"
Parent: "That doesn't sound very fair!"
Teen: "No, it isn't fair at all. I wanted to go over to Rachel's tonight to hang out and listen to music. Instead I have to study for that stupid test. I am so mad at my teacher! He ruins everything!"
Parent: (Just listening.)

This teen was able to express herself, and she felt validated by her parent.

You will notice that the parent didn't argue about the feelings the teen had. The parent listened and was not judgmental. You don't have to agree with your teen’s feelings. You only need to acknowledge them. There is no such thing as a wrong feeling. We can’t help what our teens may feel. We should set limits, however, on behaviors that don’t conform to what we consider to be appropriate behavior.

Expressing one's feelings is a healthy thing; although negative expressions of one’s feelings should be avoided, such as screaming or name calling. A good way to avoid this is using time-outs--wait and continue the conversation when everybody has calmed down.

3. Open-Ended Questions

Questions can be crucial to communicating with your teens. Ask questions that they can't answer with only a yes or a no.

For example in the above scenario the parent could ask the teen, "What could you do to help your teacher change his mind about the test?"

Teen: "I am not sure. This guy is so stubborn!"
Parent: "What if you talk to him and come up with better ways for him to deal with the kids that aren't doing their homework?"
Teen: "Mmhhh, maybe I could give it a try."

4. Criticize Behavior, Not Your Teen

Moving from the listening to the talking part of communication, your focus shifts. When you want to see a change in your teens’ behavior, using the following structure can be very helpful. “When you______, I feel______, because I need______.” This wording (known as “I“ message) doesn't attack your teens’ personality. Instead it merely talks about an action of theirs that you'd like to change and why.

Here is a scenario you might relate to: The chores were not done. Your teen went out instead. This example does not show the best way of communicating. It is a personal attack and makes statements you may not stick to anyway.

Parent: "You didn't do your chores! You are such a lazy slob! You never do your chores, and I always have to do them for you. Next time you don't do them, I am going to ground you for a week!
Teen: (Feels pretty lousy.)

Now here is an example using the “I” technique:

Parent: "When you didn't do your chores before going out, I felt really mad. We had an agreement about chores being done before going out, and I need you to do
your part of the chores, or I am stuck doing them for you.”
Teen: (Thinking.) “I guess that makes sense.”

Remember when you start a sentence with
“You are such and such,” you aren’t
communicating. You are criticizing!

5. Let the Consequence Fit the Action

A fairly big problem that parents run into is looking for suitable punishment for broken rules. However, the penalty applied usually isn't related to the teens’ action. As parents, we need to show our teens that each choice they make has consequences, but the discipline needs to be appropriate.

Parents tend to punish their teens by taking away something the adolescent enjoys, for example no TV for a week. Let’s take the earlier example of the chores not being done, such as the laundry left in a heap. It would be more beneficial to the development of your teen if you base the penalty on a natural connection between his action and the punishment. A good way of showing the consequences to his action in this instance would be having him do your laundry as well as his next time, since you had to do his this time. When following such a step, you are practicing "silent communication". This means letting him experience the natural consequences of his actions. This technique speaks louder than any words ever could. It illustrates to all people that they will be held accountable for what they do.

As they grow, teens tend to receive more privileges from parents. It is important for them to realize that more responsibility goes along with the extra freedom.

6. Using Descriptive Praise

We all praise our teen sometimes. We tell them, "You are a smart kid.” Perhaps you might say, "You are a good piano player.” We mean well, but unfortunately this kind of praise doesn't bring the desired effect of making your teen feel good about himself. Why is that? It is because what we are doing is evaluating their actions. With this type of praise, we aren’t giving evidence to support our claims, and this makes the praise fall flat and seem empty and unconvincing.

We need to describe in detail what they are doing. As your teen recognizes the truth in your words, he can then evaluate his actions and credit himself where he feels the praise has merit.

Here is an example with evaluating praise:

Teen: "Hey, Ma, I got a 90 on my geometry test!"
Parent: "Fantastic! You are a genius!"
Teen: (Thinking) "I wish. I only got it 'cause Paul helped me study. He is the genius."

Here is an example with descriptive praise:

Teen: "Hey, Ma, I got a 90 on my geometry test!"
Parent: "You must be so pleased. You did a lot of studying for that test!"
Teen: (Thinking) "I can really do geometry when I work at it!"

Describing your teens’ action rather then evaluating them with an easy "good" or "great" or labeling them with "slow learner" or "scatterbrain" isn't easy to do at first, because we are all unaccustomed to doing that. However, once you get into the habit of looking carefully at your teen's action and putting into words what you see, you will do it more and more easily and with growing pleasure.

Adolescents need the kind of emotional nourishment that will help them become independent, creative thinkers and doers, who aren't looking to others for approval all the time. With this sort of praise, teens will trust themselves, and they won’t need everybody else's opinion to tell them how they are doing.

Another challenging problem concerns when and how we criticize our teens. Instead of pointing out what's wrong with your teen’s actions, try describing what is right followed by what still needs doing.

Example: Your teen hasn't done his laundry yet.

Parent: "How is the laundry coming?
Teen: "I am working on it."
Parent: "I see that you picked up your clothes in your room and in the family room and put it in the hamper. You are half way there."

This parent talks with encouragement, acknowledging what has been done so far, rather then pointing out what hasn't been done yet.

For more helpful information and examples on good communication with your child, I highly recommend a book by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So They Will Talk, published by Harper, ISBN 0380811960.

There’s a teen version of the book called How to Talk so Teens Will Listen, ISBN 0060741252.

"Parents need to fill a child's bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can't poke enough holes in it to drain it dry."

- Alvin Price

Another great place to find stories that support and encourage your Teen is in the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul book series authored by Mark Victor Hansen and Debbie Reber.

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