Top 10 Tips for Parenting Teens


Save Your Breath

If your teenager breaks a house rule, gets a D in geometry or saunters in two hours after curfew, chances are you're going to feel like yelling -- or launching into a long-winded lecture at the very least.

Your child doesn't really learn much from these moments -- at least, not anything good. What they do discover is that if they push your buttons you'll lose control. And now they know exactly what will put you over the edge.

When you yell or lecture, your child also learns how to tune you out. This happens in one of two ways: Your teen stops paying attention (even if you're 5 inches from his face) or he starts screaming right back [source: Vedral]. The result? No one is listening and, more than likely, this behavior is bound to repeat.

Try a strategy that gets more meaningful results. Plant a positive look on your face, and keep it there. Even when you're not happy with something your teen has -- or hasn't -- done. It may sound simple, but it sets the tone for the entire exchange. Keep your voice low, and listen more than you talk.

When you exact discipline, try to focus on meaningful consequences that are relative to the size of the rule that was broken. In general, the penalty for not taking out the trash should be less severe than the penalty for borrowing your car without permission [source: Lehman].

If you do find yourself in a shouting match, stop immediately. Explain that you don't like what is happening and leave the room to cool off. In this moment, you're teaching a coping skill. And that's really the point of parenting a teenager. Your goal is to equip your teenager with strategies he will successfully use the rest of his life.

Learn more about parenting and dealing with teenagers by visiting the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Alexander, Rose. "10 Teen Fashion Tips for Concerned Parents." July 27, 2007.
  • Chen, L.H., et al. "Carrying Passengers as a Risk Factor for Crashes Fatal to 16- and 17-year-old Drivers." The Journal of the American Medical Association. 283, 12. 1578. March 22, 2000.
  • Cohen, Deborah, et al. "When and Where Do Youths Have Sex?" Pediatrics: The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 110, 6. 66. December 2002.
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  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Youth Traffic Safety Statistics." Feb, 4, 2010.
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  • President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. "2008 Annual Report to the President." 2008.
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