More of our top tips on parenting your teens…
We don’t claim to be parenting experts and never will. But between us we’ve raised 5 teens to be really good and kind people. So we’re keen to share our personal parenting tips. They’re based on what has worked for us and what we believe is really important – it’s advice that we’d have loved to have heard ten years ago, when we were working out how best to parent teenagers.
We hope you find these useful. If you’d like to read more tips, numbers 1-10 can be found here.
11. Make sure your teenagers know that you’re always on their side
And that you will always support them no matter what. It can be tempting, for example if they come home with a story about how they’ve fallen out with a teacher, to listen to them and think ‘actually, the teacher was right’. But they don’t really need you to tell them that, in their heart of hearts they probably know. They need you to listen carefully to their side of the story and help them work out how they could have handled it differently, how they could have got their point across. It doesn’t mean that you have to condone bad behaviour or always believe them without questioning. It just means that you have to be there for them. They need to know that you will always be around to listen, to help, and that whatever happens you will be their biggest cheerleader.
12. Teens and sibling rivalry
Although you might think to yourself ‘I wish they’d grown out of this by now’, especially the oldest one, just remember that sibling rivalry is a normal part of family life. They are bound to challenge each other about education, about sport, about things in the house. To help deal with this:
- Establish family ground rules. The hard part is – always stick to them.
- Remember that adolescents sometimes seem more mature on the surface than they actually are and even teenagers may be competing for parental attention. So give them some one-to-one time. Remember that it’s like baking a cake, or driving a car. They don’t necessarily have the skills yet to deal with each other, so you need to help them develop those.
- Before things escalate, doors slam, hurtful things are said and language deteriorates, admit to them that you’re exhausted and they must be too. Suggest everyone takes some time out to reset.
13. Learn to like what they like
A great way to connect with your teens is to watch what they’re watching, listen to what they’re listening to – whether it’s music or podcasts – and find out which influencers they really respect and follow them on social media. Or ask them to cheer you up by showing you the funniest TikTok they’ve seen that day. It has to be natural, you can’t stalk them or look desperate! But if you show an interest and they’re keen to share, it’s a brilliant way of always having something to talk about that they’re really interested in and a way of entering their world. If you’ve no idea what they’re talking about, a surreptitious Google will be your best friend. And you’ll probably find, as we definitely have, that you’re suddenly exposed to a whole load of new stuff that really enhances your life.
14. Make sure they come to you first if they’re in trouble
Make sure your teens know that if they’re in trouble they can always come to you. You need to lay the groundwork in the younger years with lots of examples, conversations, discussions so they know that in a crisis you won’t judge, you’ll just drop everything to help. This becomes really important in the older years, so they’re totally comfortable with calling you rather than getting in a car with someone who’s had an extra drink and shouldn’t be driving. Or if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, whatever it might be. It’s really important that they do this even if they’re not where they should be, not doing what they’re meant to be and whatever time of the day or night it is, even if it means dragging you out of bed. They need to know you’re on their side and your top priority is just to get them, sort them out and help them make sure it’s ok.
15. Adapt your parenting style as they grow
If you find yourself having the same, repeated argument with your teenager, sometimes it’s timely to stand back and think about how you’re dealing with them. It could be that when you had a 13-year-old you had a certain way with them, a certain set of rules. And then before you can blink you’re faced with a 17-year-old, and obviously things need to have changed. Adapt your parenting style as they grow, in order to respect them. It’s not always them. We need to review our boundaries too and recognise that it’s always an unknown situation as you move into new phases as the years go by.
16. Prove to them that everyone needs help sometimes
This isn’t quite as easy to put into practice as some of our suggestions! You’re always giving your teenagers helpful advice. Of course. We all do. It’s our job. But a really brilliant way of telling them – and showing them – that everybody needs help and advice is to ask them for their help. Especially if you’re struggling with a really difficult problem, ask them for their advice, ask them what they would do in your situation. And unless it’s really not ideal, put it into practice. Show them you’ve done this, tell them how grateful you are and hopefully they will learn the lesson that it’s totally normal and absolutely ok to need help and advice.
17. We have two ears and one mouth
Remember a brilliant piece advice that Lotte from Hector’s House reminded us of on one of our Instagram Lives (you can watch it here). “We have two ears and one mouth”. When your teen is talking, although it can be frustrating, find the patience to let them finish what they’re saying. And don’t interrupt them. Because it shows that you respect them and it shows that you are properly willing to listen to their point of view. Even in the difficult times when you don’t actually agree with them, it will give a better start to the conversation that then follows.
18. Don’t chase perfection
We all love our teenagers to bits. Even when they’re driving us mad. And we want their lives to be smooth and wonderful, and everything they do to be a success. Especially with the weight of expectations on teenagers today, which is quite frankly crazy. So it can be tempting to focus on smoothing out their weaknesses. And of course they have them. We all do. We’re human. But it doesn’t matter if they’re not great at everything. As long as they meet basic requirements and try their best, let it go. Focus instead on what feeds their passion, on what they’re brilliant at, on what brings them joy.They’ll be happier. And you’ll be happier.
19. Embrace parental taxi driver duties
Let’s flip that feeling of being a put-upon parental taxi driver. When they want to have their friends round, or they ask you on a Friday or Saturday night if you’ll pick them up, let’s rise to the challenge. Let’s try and enjoy it. Because it’s a perfect opportunity to have a conversation with them. It’s a great opportunity to be the cool and helpful parent, which can come in very useful. And it’s a chance to get to know their friends properly. The other thing is that it gives you access to other parents or guardians and that creates a safety net in itself. So that when you can’t be the taxi driver or you can’t be the host, it means you’re in a better place to know they’re safe.
20. Let them know early on that they can ask you anything
This tip is especially suitable for parents of younger teens. Start really early in making your teens aware that you’re happy to discuss any subject at all with them. There’s nothing you won’t talk about or help them find information on, even if it feels a bit taboo. It might be embarrassing – wow, are there some stories we could tell you! But as they get older, you will be so grateful that they know they can come to you without prejudice, without worry and discuss absolutely any subject under the sun.
We hope you’ve found our top tips on parenting your teens useful. We upload a new parenting tip regularly on Instagram (we’re @equippthem) in our Equipp Tips series. And if you’d like to read more, have a browse through the Parenting Teens section of the blog.
And do leave us a comment with your top parenting tip 🙂
Louise & Anna x
A little bit about Equipp
We’re Louise & Anna, mum to 5 teens and young adults. We set up Equipp to help spread happiness and positivity amongst today’s amazing young people. We believe it’s vital that every teenager is given confidence to believe in themselves. Telling them how wonderful they are and putting a daily smile on their faces via the cards and gifts they receive from Equipp is integral to everything we design and produce. Have a browse around our collections of birthday and teenage milestone gifts and please do get in touch if you have any questions or would like any recommendation.
We love to celebrate teenagers in every way, and are building a community of parents who feel the same. We hope you enjoy reading our blog posts and we’d love it if you came and joined us on Instagram or Facebook to chat about parenting teens.
Oh, and we’re raising money for a fantastic teenage suicide prevention charity, Hector’s House, with a donation from every purchase from Equipp.