Positive Parenting—Three Ways to Make the Best of the Teen Years

by | November 10, 2017

Are you dreading the teen years—or perhaps already in the midst of them? Whether it’s a distant concern, or an immediate challenge, there are ways to make the best of it. In fact, the teen years can even be (mostly) delightful! We’re so conditioned to fear that time of life, but it’s also possible to enjoy your kids and continue to be a happy, functioning person—and an effective parent.
Here are three things you can do stay sane (and be the best parent you can be) during the teen years:
  • Don’t take it personally. Ah, one of the great challenges of life, right? Not taking things personally is easier said than done, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding practice. Have you ever read the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz? One of the “agreements” is to not take things personally. It’s so freeing when you’re able to see that other’s behavior is a projection of their own reality, and not because of you. We suffer needlessly, and far too often, because we take things personally when they’re really not about us.
What better example of this than the teen years? Here we have a young adult with raging hormones, social pressures, and heightened self-criticism as they go through their transition from child to adult. They can also be rather snarky to their parents, as it’s nature’s way of preparing them for adulthood. For example, if your daughter has always been a mama’s girl, she must find her own identity as she becomes an adult—and as she does, she may unconsciously push you away. Often, this presents itself as judgment and criticism towards you. However, it’s not personal. It’s just her way of temporarily ( distancing her identity from yours.
It also reflects on her own heightened level of self-criticism. Teens are so incredibly critical of themselves that they often project that negative self-image onto their parents. Again, try not to take this personally. If they’re calling you “weird” it’s most likely because they worry they’re weird themselves. They need to temporarily form a “non-weird” identity, both to have a self-image apart from you, and also to fit in. Don’t worry—this won’t last forever. Before you know it, you’ll have your awesome, weird kiddo back after this phase passes.
  • Use positive reinforcement. This one is so simple, yet we often forget how powerful it is! Really, this one thing can do wonders to help turn around negative situations. If you find yourself being critical of your kids on a regular basis, stop for a moment. And sure, you could be right—maybe they are being irresponsible jerks right now. But, is it helping matters to repeatedly tell them that? What if instead of constantly pointing out what they’re doing wrong, you began to catch them doing things right? What if you focused more and more on their positive behaviors, and gave them genuine praise?
Of course, this isn’t to say you should just become an overly lenient parent and ignore bad behavior—absolutely not! But if you begin to notice when they’re doing things right, and compliment them more often, you may be pleasantly surprised. Teenagers, like anyone, are responsive to the messages they’re getting. What we focus on is almost always what we get more of. If you’re finding more positive things to praise them for, and focusing on their strengths as often as possible, they’ll be much more likely to want to keep it up!
  • Strike a balance. It’s important to have boundaries and rules, but equally necessary to create a safe space for your teen, so that they know you’ll be there for them no matter what. Ideally, here’s what we recommend—make sure your teenager knows that you’ve got their back, and that you’ll always be there to help them without judgment. They should feel safe to tell you anything. However, this does not mean there shouldn’t be consequences for bad behavior.
The “sweet spot” is when they know they can tell you anything (without fear of you yelling at them or shaming them), but that you’ll also take the best steps to discipline them (calmly and rationally) as needed. They know you’re there to truly help them, and that you have their best interests at heart. Be their parent—and also their friend whenever possible. Kindness to yourself and to your teens is a simple thing, but very powerful. You can do this!
A Note From The Staff At ‘Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting’

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