Parenting Skills: How to Prepare for Adolescence

In the rapidly changing world of parenting, children seem to be growing up more rapidly than ever before. The world of teens and tweens is saturated with ever-increasing peer pressure and social anxiety. Children learn limits by testing them and it is vital for parents to enforce these limits. However, there are five considerable mistakes, or blunders that parents may be guilty of, which include:

  1. Worst Case Scenario Survival – Parents that expect the worst from their teens often sets teens up for disappointing disapproval. Giving children the message that they are only “good” if they are not being “bad” sets them up for a disastrous outcome. Parents who teach children that they have negative expectations can often expect this to backfire, causing a child to act out this negativity and make parents’ worst fears a reality. Connecting with children creates an environment where open communication receives positive enforcement.
  2. But I read in a parenting book …” – Often this statement is enough to make someone cringe. The over abuse of reading every parenting book available is actually detrimental to the parent-child relationship. Parents who read every book available on child rearing are often stressed, brimming with worry and negativity. Parents who do not rely on their own internal instincts and parenting skills and try to replace them with every child-rearing theory in existence, typically end up far worse than those that trust their guts. While parenting books can be helpful, limiting the number, and only using the articles to gain perspective is a more positive approach to childrearing. 
  3. Focus on the big picture, not the small picture – If a parent does not care for a child’s self-expressionism, haircut or clothes, it is also important to understand when to draw the line and when to let miniscule things go. As long as a child’s choice of clothing is not provocative, parents may decide it is better to allow their child to experiment with self-expression than alienate him/her. Children have to experience life – to a degree – by themselves. Parents are not able to shelter children forever and childhood unfortunately involves experiencing disappointment, hurt, failure and pain.
  4. Ignoring the Big Picture – Many parents would rather ignore suspicions that their child is using drugs or abusing alcohol. In fact, parents need to address these problems immediately otherwise they could rapidly escalate. Today there are more drugs available to children, posing major health risks and concerns. A popular choice trend between teens includes huffing, abusing cough medicine and mistreatment of over the counter medications.
  5. Iron Fist vs. Kid Gloves: Finding the Middle Ground – Some parents employ harsh iron fist parenting tactics that can push children away, making them feel disciplined for every minor mistake and error. Other parents pursue the angle that they want their teen to be their friend and stray away from enforcing discipline. In reality, parents need to find a happy medium between these two extremes. Overly strict parents may stunt their child’s development by not allowing him/her to grow and become his/her own person. Parents who do not discipline do not provide the structure and foundation a child needs for sufficient self-discovery. Parents need to establish values and communicate these effectively to their children.

No one ever claimed that parenting was an easy task. In fact, it is not only an 18-year commitment, but also a lifetime commitment. Therapists in Provo are available to help parents build their parenting skills, including improving communication with their teen or tween. Family counseling in Utah is also a good option for parents that need a third party counselor to help initiate communication and healthy interaction with their child. Provo counselors receive special training that helps families focus on therapy in a safe environment, helping strengthen relationships and create healthy family bonds.

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