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7 PARENTING TIPS FOR RAISING TEENAGERS Featured

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We parents of teens are called to leave our paths and get on theirs. Why? To be sure they aren't alone. To encourage them through the thickets and storms. To rejoice when there's something to rejoice about.

When we walk alongside our teens, we usually need to follow their rules. We're there to do what they want to do. We're choos­ing to actively participate in their world. Walking alongside happens when we step into our teens' shoes and see life from their perspective. We don't do it once a year; we do it often.
But where do you begin? How do you walk alongside a kid who may not even like the idea? Here are some useful tips

1. Give kids some freedom: factors such as some independence is essential to helping your teens develop their own identity. Most times we parents get scared about such independence because of fear of your child mingling with the wrong friends. There are definitely other ways to fight such fears; over protection does not solve that problem. Constant involvements in your teen’s life is key.

2. Invite their friends over: this helps keep tabs on the friends your teen associates with.  It helps to meet kids you have questions about. Spending some time with them gives you the opportunity to have a better sense of those friends. "It's the old adage, you catch more bears with honey than vinegar. If you flatly say, you can't go out with those kids, it often can backfire -- it just increases the antagonism; Elkind says."

3. Decide rules and discipline in advance; "It's important for parents to have their own discussion, so they can come to some kind of agreement, so parents are on the same page," says Bobrow. Whether you ban them from driving for a week or a month, whether you ground them for a week, cut back on their allowance or Internet use whatever set it in advance. If the kid says it isn't fair, then you have to agree on what is fair punishment. Then, follow through with the consequences.

4. Talk to teens about risks: start speaking to your teen on issues such as sex, driving, drugs etc. Trust me it’s better to address certain issues your kids may face as teens than them discussing it with the wrong people. Times have changed, kids have become way smarter; we as parents have to work with the time change. Your kids need to know the worst that could happen.

5. Keep the door open: with our kids, parents please DO NOT interrogate, but act interested. Share a few tidbits about your own day; ask about theirs. How was your day? Another good line: "You may not feel like talking about what happened right now. I know what that's like. But if you feel like talking about it later, you come to me," Elkind suggests.

6. Let your kid feel guilty: Feeling good about yourself is healthy. But people should feel bad if they have hurt someone or done something wrong. Kids need to feel bad sometimes, guilt is a healthy emotion.

7. Be a role model. Let your action speak for you as a parent, children tend to look at actions more even more than your words. This is critical in helping teens adopt good moral and ethical standards. If they have a good role model from early on, they will be less likely to make bad decisions in their rebellious teen years.

Elkind is a Jewish-American Child Psychologist and author.

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