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Parenting Teens

Parenting Teens

Tips for Parents of Teens

Are you looking for some parenting teens advice that will help you connect with your troubled teen? Parenting teens is not easy. Unfortunately, when our children are born, we aren't given a parenting (especially a parenting teens) handbook. Whether during the childhood years or the troubled teen years, at some point every parent is going to ask for help. Here are some parenting teens tips that may be helpful in building a relationship with your troubled teen.

Parenting Teen Tip #1 - Find Common Ground: When parenting teens, and as the parent, the ball is in "your" court. The sporting teams that win are the ones who do the best job of sharing the ball. It shouldn't be impossible to recognize problems or situations in your troubled teen's life that compare to the experiences you had at their age. You may even find they are strikingly similar.

They've never been in your shoes, but "you've" been in "theirs." Years ago a business partner and I would frequently have to make a 6-hour commute together. Once we'd run out of things to talk about we would run into trouble because he liked country music and I liked alternative. Rather than compromise, we both preferred to ride in awkward silence. One day he brought a new record by an upstart country rocker named Steve Earle.

Suddenly we had a common denominator. Our long commutes turned into trips we both looked forward to. Find some common ground with your troubled teen. This will open up the lines of communication and the opportunity for shared experiences.

Our long commutes turned into trips we both looked forward to. Find some common ground with your troubled teen. This will open up the lines of communication and the opportunity for shared experiences.

Parenting Teen Tip #2 - Constructive Communication: When parenting teens be prepared to explain your reasons for your decisions rather than just saying "because I said so." This helps your teen understand the reasons for your decisions and can have a very positive effect in the relationship with your troubled teen. Be fair and respectful towards each other. It's important to control our own anger so that we don't lash out regrettably.

Disagreements, especially when parenting teens, can escalate into brutally painful exchanges that cause us to say things that we immediately regret. This can lead to wounds that are slow to heal. Count to ten, take three deep breaths and wait until you are calm and reasonable before talking with your troubled teen.

Controlling our anger is not always easy when parenting teens, but in order to maintain healthy lines of communication, your teen can't be afraid to speak freely. Gaining this kind of trust in a parent to teen relationship takes consistent work and patience. If you have a trusting relationship with your troubled teen, you will be the first person they want to call when they need help.

If you can gain your troubled teens confidence so that they're comfortable talking to you about the things that are going on in their lives, (even those things that aren't easy to hear) then you can tackle the issues and problems that come along. Get close, as close as you can - and stay there.

Parenting Teen Tip #3 - Example is the Best Sermon: It's important to remember when parenting teens that you are being closely watched. Your habits and patterns of behavior are learned and are often repeated. If your teen, especially troubled teen perceives your actions as hypocrisy they'll often use it to justify their own negative behavior.

This includes abuse of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, risky sex, and the lifestyles that accompany these things. It has been said that what parents do in moderation teens will do in excess. It important for parents to "own" their faults and recognize their own need to change and improve. Being honest and open with your troubled teen when it comes to the shortcomings you may have as a parent, will inspire the same sort of openness in your teen.

Sir Francis Bacon said, "He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other."

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More Parenting Tips

Are you looking for parenting tips when it comes to your troubled teen? Although there are no easy solutions for parenting teens, we can offer a few parenting tips that may help. Getting your troubled teens to embrace the values, lifestyle and even religious beliefs you hold dear and would like them to share is difficult.

It's all too obvious that the strict, unyielding, disciplinarian approach is likely to backfire and do more to fuel the fire of teen rebellion than inspire willing compliance. No two situations are alike and it becomes especially tricky when a parent is dealing with a troubled teenager who may already be showing signs of problem behavior. We hope you find the following parenting tips to be helpful.

Parenting Tip #1 - Lead by Example: When I think of parenting teens (especially troubled teens) I believe in the following three parenting tips: 1. Be an example, 2. Be an example and 3. (you guessed it) Be an example. Teens have keen radars for the detection of double standards - so be ever mindful that you're constantly under surveillance.

Make sure your own actions are in line with the values and standards you expect your teens to live up to. Your teens will notice and respond by honoring the things you exemplify. A teen (particularly teens facing troubling issues) need a solid example in their life.

Parenting Tip #2 - Encourage Responsibility: Older teens would like to believe they're grown up and ready to strike out as independent adults. Regardless of how foolish this may appear to you, an important parenting tip is to allow them space to spread their wings.

Treat them and speak to them more maturely as well as give them more responsibility. However, keep the rules of your home clear and consistent.

Parenting Tip #3 - Real Communication: Dealing with a troublesome, troubling or troubled teenager is one of the great challenges of parenthood. They come and go, ignore house rules, talk to you when and if THEY want to.

To top it off when you go in search of parenting tips to help in dealing with your troubled teen (whether it be Dr. Phil, friends or Google) you'll read that the solution to parenting teens is communication. Are they kidding? You could get more information talking to your houseplants than your troubled teenager.

The best way to start a conversation with your troubled teenager is by listening. Keep in mind that teens are constantly being "talked at" and told what to do by teachers, coaches, counselors, bosses, friends, teammates and boy/girlfriends. Rather than adding your voice to the chorus of demands, commands, and reprimands, work at making your time with your troubled teen a time when they have the floor.

Invite their input and ask their opinion. You know what music, movies and other interest they have. So invent a scenario where you need their advice. "I could use some advice and this is right up your alley." What kid isn't going to take the bait? You can find common ground and use it as a foundation to build upon.

Chances are the music you liked when you were their age influenced the bands they enjoy now. Above all, by listening to your troubled teen, you're setting the example you want them to follow. Listening and showing them that you value their opinion and input shows them that you respect them.

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How to Communicate Effectively with Adolescents

Are you finding parenting teens to be difficult? If so, you are not alone. Parenting teens in a successful way require good communication skills. Parents do not automatically possess the skills necessary to communicate with their teens in an effective way. Communication skills like any other kind of skill must be learned. The following tips can help you reach your teen or adolescent and make the difficult job of parenting teens that much easier.

Possessing a loving, evolving, healthy relationship with a teenager means getting to know him or her as a person; this is especially important when we consider that a primary task of successfully navigating through adolescence is identity formation. Parents and anyone who works with troubled teens will need to focus on taking intentional steps towards forming a meaningful relationship with the teenager.

A primary mechanism of discerning, learning, and understanding the personality characteristics and identity of a problem child is through effective communication. Effective communication incorporates a variety of skills some of which include attending behaviors, reflective listening, open and closed questions, and observation.

Attending Behaviors

Attending behaviors, including eye contact, vocal qualities, verbal tracking, and body language, can communicate to teens that you truly want to hear and understand what he or she is saying. For a troubled teen, it may also communicate that you care and want to connect on a personal and emotional level.

Although there are cultural differences in the effective use of attending, generally direct eye contact is considered a sign that the individual being spoken to is fully present and listening. Breaks in eye contact may inform the listener in determining topics that could be uncomfortable or distressing. Vocal qualities, on the part of either the speaker or the listener, such as changes in pitch, volume, and rate of speech, can communicate care, understanding, or a lack thereof.

Verbal tracking is another attending behavior that may assist the adult in receiving the entire content or emotion that is being communicated to the teen. If the teen tends to shift topics, you, the adult, may want to pull the conversation back to a specific "track" to obtain the full narrative of a situation or concern. In addition, body language, rather than verbal exchange, is a primary means of communicating with teens.

A person may move towards another when interested and away when uninterested or uncomfortable. To facilitate open communication with an adolescent, body language must remain authentic, relaxed, open, respectful, and convey care and a sense of attentive presence.

Reflective Listening

Reflective listening, such as through the use of paraphrasing, encourages (e.g., nodding your head, saying uh-huh, repeating the last word of a teen's sentence in the form of a question to encourage additional elaboration), or restating what you hear in your own words to confirm that you accurately understand the teen's narrative or concern, demonstrates that you empathize and are interested. When an individual feels heard, he or she is more likely to remain open and develop trust with another.

Attempt to reflect back to the teen, not just the content, but also the feelings underneath the content. This aids the teen in identifying and labeling feelings, thereby increasing insight and understanding of self.

Open and Closed Questions

Through the use of open and closed questions, you may assist a teen in exploring ideas and experiences from a variety of angles. This also helps in developing insight and self-awareness. Asking questions such as, "What else?", "What happened before you felt afraid or acted out in anger?", "Was there something different going on that made you react differently?", "Could you give me a specific example?" facilitate understanding.

Closed questions may be effective in obtaining specific information and generally begin with is, are, or do. Open questions encourage additional dialogue and generally begin with what, how, why, or could. However, when communicating with a teen, be particularly careful with the use of questions that begin with "Why?" The use of "why" questions may create a sense of feeling attacked or judged and may place the adolescent on his or her defensive.

In addition, it is often a reality that the teen may be unclear as to the why of a feeling or reaction. Through open questions, we can assist him or her in increased understanding of who he or she is becoming as a person; it may also inform the adolescent on what could be driving his or her behaviors and emotions.


Above all, observe the reactions of the adolescent and yourself when communicating. Are your responses, body language, questions, and/or tone of voice encouraging additional sharing or resulting in the teen withdrawing from the exchange? What signals is the adolescent providing through body language, rate of speech, and pitch? 

By utilizing attending behaviors, reflective listening, open and closed questions, and observation skills, we can increase our accessibility and approachability with the teens we care for and work with. This improves the ability to maintain an authentic connection and provides a firm foundation for a healthy and evolving relationship. It also models effective communication skills that the adolescent may carry for the rest of his or her life.

In summary, parenting teens take effort in communication. If you want to communicate with your teen successfully, treat them as the real people they are. Get to know them through these communication techniques. Show them you are interested in them and what they are saying by using the attending behaviors outlined above. Confirm to them that you do understand what they are saying through reflective listening techniques.

Use open and closed questions to help get to the root of the problems being discussed. Finally, always tailor your communication style by careful observation of your teen's reactions. You want to engage your teen in the open exchange of thoughts and feelings. By using these communication techniques, you can become more effective at parenting teens.

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How to Deal with Lying Teenagers

Parents with teens who has been caught lying will normally feel betrayed and disappointed. Once trust has been breached, it will be very difficult to trust your teens again. But a teen may lie for a lot of reasons, too. Lying does not always mean that your own teen is setting out on a life that's full of dishonesty and lies. This is why parents should also learn to understand why their teens might lie to them.

Why do Teens Lie?

Developmental Growth – From a teenager's point of view, lying is just another way of trying to separate their own decisions from their parent's wishes in order to establish a sense of independence. During the adolescent stage, teens are faced with the need to be independent; to function, compete and thrive with and against their peers.

Sometimes teens lie because they want some control in their lives and to adhere with the need to belong together with their peers. Lying can also result out of their own insecurities. By means of exaggeration, teens can cover up the actual negative situation to keep themselves out of trouble or prove themselves better than their peers.

Problems with communication – A teen who lies can also result from a lack of proper parent-teen communication. Teens chose to lie because they are not sure about how their parents would react if they tell everything to them. They often feel that their parents won't listen to what they have to say anyway, so they resort to lying to avoid any disagreements.

At times, they would choose the easy way out and just lie to avoid facing the consequences of their actions. The degree of honesty your teens may have could say something about how open you are with your teens.

Testing Limits – Teens are sometimes curious about whether they can get away with breaking a rule and how far they can push their limits without their parents knowing. Sometimes teens would want to find out if their parents are indeed watching them or if their parents will actually enforce consequences if ever the teens will break the rules.

If your teens are found to have lied, try to know the underlying meaning of their disobedience and dishonesty because your teenagers may not be conscious of the effects and gravity of their lies. It's important to understand what's really going on with your teens in order to correct the negative habit right away.

How do you deal with your Lying Teenager?

1. Accept the fact that they lied: Do not ignore the fact that your teens have lied to you. By ignoring a bad behavior, you are making the problem worse rather than correcting the habit straight away. Confront your teens about it so that you can get to the root of the problem and discuss why they there's a need for them to lie.

2. Establish an open communication with them: Let your teens explain why there's a need for them to lie and why they feel this is the best option rather than immediately lecturing them about lying. Treat your teens with respect and listen to what they have to say.

Explain your stand about how unacceptable lying is and if there's a reason for them to lie, you would want to know so that any misunderstandings can be eliminated. Sometimes we fail to assess ourselves about how we treat and expect our teens to be good at everything.

Because of these expectations, teens would rather lie than disappoint their parents whenever they fail at something. In addition, give your teens the responsibility that they can handle and provide adequate freedom for additional responsibilities that you entrust to them.

3. Let them learn by example: Without being conscious about it, you might be influencing your teens that it's okay to lie. Lying to them in the past and letting them see you defy values you have set will deplete your rules against disobedience.

Adult hypocrisy is one behavior that teens find disappointing. That’s why parents should learn to be aware of how they act and behave around their children so that they can imitate the good habits that you show.

4. Acknowledge their honesty: Give your teens some credit whenever they tell the truth. By acknowledging their honesty, you also motivate them to do good and be honest at all times in order to earn your trust and approval. Sometimes giving them the reward for good deeds done will show them the positive consequences that they will get every time they're telling the truth.

5. Apply logical consequences: Setting out rules and consequences for disobedience is not enough if it's not properly imposed. Negotiate with your teens about the appropriate sanctions depending on their level of disobedience and be willing to be flexible if their reasons for lying are valid or unintentional.

Always remember though that your teen’s safety should never be compromised. So in order for your teens to keep that in mind, parents should see to it that they are firm and consistent with the consequences they set. This will discourage your teens from continuously testing their limits.

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Next Steps

Do you need help with your child? Has your child drastically changed his/her behavior recently? Does your child suffer from ADHD, ADD, ODD, Hyperactivity, Learning Disabilities or Emotional Abuse? Are they having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, lack of respect, disruptive behavior, talking back, sneaking out or ditching school? Are you ready to give up on your troubled teenagers?

MyTroubledTeen.com is an online resource for parents looking for help with their children. You'll find helpful articles written by experts and other useful resources including a large directory of boarding schools, boot camps, military schools, private schools for troubled teenagers, residential treatment centers, Christian programs for troubled teenagers, and wilderness programs (each varying in the level of therapy and services they provide to teens).

Warning signs: what behavior is "normal"?

Some of the most common questions most parents of troubled teenagers will ask themselves is "why is my child doing this? Is it normal? Does it happen to anyone else? Should I be concerned?" If you are wondering about the severity of your troubled teenager's problems, you might consider some of the warning signs below. As you read through this list, consider how each point relates to your teenage son or daughter. If you find that you can answer "yes" to more than a few of these questions, then you may need to take further action:

  • Distancing from the Family
  • Lying
  • Isolating from the Family
  • Drop in Academic Performance
  • Dress and Grooming
  • New Friends
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Drug Use
  • Cutting
  • Sexual Promiscuity
  • Running Away

If your troubled teenager's behavior meets some or all of the above descriptions, you are not alone. Depending on the severity of the problems you may need to work on some parent techniques to turn your situation around. If you feel your problem is more severe you can use our Troubled Teen Test to help plan a course of action.

Available options include counseling, therapy, troubled teenagers programs, academic programs and boot camps (there are many different ways you can help your teenager but it's important to consider all of the alternatives).

MyTroubledTeen.com has been helping parents of troubled teenagers for nearly a decade - in this time we've helped thousands of parents. Our years of experience can help you find the right help for your teen, from counseling to troubled teenager schools to Christian programs or even short-stay boot camps.

For Schools and Programs

If you are a representative for a youth program, and cannot find your school for troubled teenagers in our database, or would like to update the information on our site, please contact us. We would like to make sure all of the information on our site is up-to-date and relevant for our visitors.

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