1. Don’t take their moods personally
Being a teenager is a difficult time with uncomfortable and confusing feelings, thoughts and experiences. Chances are that their bad mood or snotty tone of voice has got nothing to do with you. Let them know where your boundaries are, but don’t take their behaviour too personally.
2. Be natural
The best role model you can be for them is to be yourself. By feeling comfortable in your own skin and sticking to your integrity, you unconsciously give the teen permission to start to do the same.
3. Ask if you don’t understand
A teen’s world is probably very different to yours. If you don’t understand the meaning of a word they are using, a place they are talking about or a gadget you have never heard about – just ask. The teen will might laugh at you or be sarcastic but at least you will learn a little more about their world.
4. See the world through their eyes
Related to the point above, it’s important to make an effort to see the world through the teen’s eyes. Being a teen now is very different to when you were a teenager (even if that’s only a decade ago). Learn about what it is like to be a teen now. It will be enlightening!
5. Be honest
Always be honest about your own life, how you feel and what you think. You don’t necessarily need to candy coat everything for teens – they will probably see right through it anyway. Being honest can help teens understand you, the world and themselves better. It can also help to foster care and respect between you.
Many teens take life FAR too seriously. By being light and fun, you can teach them how to laugh at you, themselves and life. This is a valuable life skill that helps keep things in perspective.
7. Respect their privacy
Even if the teen in question is your child, resist the temptation to search through their phone, internet history etc. They are busy forming their own identity and privacy is very important. A breach in trust like this can take a long time to rebuild. Rather foster a relationship that encourages the teen to come talk to you about things that are not going well, thereby alleviating the “need” to snoop.
8. Encourage them to be themselves
As mentioned above, the teen years are a time of forming an identity in the world. Teens also have a very strong need to conform and belong. Always encourage the teen to be themselves and to express that however they want. If they want to dye their hair black and cut it into a mullet – let them (and don’t laugh!)
9. Be adaptable
A teen is a rapidly developing person. What may have applied and worked last year, is probably no longer relevant. Continue to see the teen as a fresh new evolving person and adapt accordingly.
10. Be fun but firm
It’s good to fun and free, but still maintain some boundaries and structure. Allow the teen to express themselves but ask them to still respect others and the general rules of the house, school, family etc.