3 Common Mistakes Parents Make With Teens


When your child becomes a teen, he or she will change psychologically. Your once agreeable child will rebel and ignore long-established household rules. What once worked to elicit respectful behavior will abruptly stop working. 


Your teens’ urge for greater freedom isn’t personal. It’s just an evolutionary script playing out before your eyes. While your teen’s erratic emotional and intellectual changes might alarm you, they are just a natural phase of human development.  


How do you help your teen show better judgment? How do you help them mature sensibly? 


You must revise your parental strategies to manage this new phase in your child’s maturation. 


Here are three common mistakes parents commonly make when they don’t recognize or acknowledge their child’s transition from pre-teen to teen:


Mistake #1: Avoiding Awkward Conversations 


Children learn about drugs and alcohol earlier than ever before. Since teens are now in a rebellious phase, the warning about the harmful effects of intoxicants taught in middle school through programs like DARE no longer work. 


So, one awkward conversation you must have with your teen is to talk about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol. But be warned–introducing this well-worn topic will provoke eye-rolls and dismissive phrases like “whatever.” They will also subject you to absurd arguments about how the cool kids in their school are smoking, drinking, and taking recreational drugs with no consequences.  


The best way to manage these conversations is to research the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on the human mind and body. This will equip you to answer such random questions designed to throw you off your guard as “How long does heroin stay in your system?” If you say you don’t know or ask them to do a Google search, they will take your lack of knowledge as proof of your antediluvian ideas. 


Mistake #2: Refusing to Listen 


It’s difficult to stay calm when your child overreacts to everything you say or becomes disrespectful. But rather than losing your temper, listen to their reasons for their changed attitude or behavior. The simple act of listening will reduce the crackling tension in the room.


One way to get your teen to respect and listen to you is to model the behavior you expect from them by displaying it yourself. This may or may not work. If it doesn’t, don’t take their unreasonable behavior as signs of rebellion you must snuff out before it gets out of control.  


Your teen still loves and respects you, but they want to relate to you as future adults, not immature children. They have not forsaken their values, but are probing the reasons behind them. 


Mistake #3: Granting Too Little or Too Much Freedom 


Ultimately, your teen’s rebellious behavior and disrespect of your cherished norms is simply an incoherent way of pressing for more freedom.  


When it comes to granting your child greater freedom, you can make the mistake of giving them too much freedom because you hope they will learn from their mistakes or make the mistake of granting too little to prevent them from doing something illegal or embarrassing.  


The way to avoid these extremes is to grant freedom in small doses. When your teen handles things maturely, give them more. If, conversely, they abuse their newly won freedom, then take away their privileges. Setting clear and firm rules and following through on rule-breaking with consequences will hold them accountable. 


When your teen sees that you’re serious about expecting them to keep their word, they will stop testing your boundaries.  


Adolescence is difficult for everyone. They are difficult for you as a parent and uncomfortable for your son or daughter. The way to manage these challenging times is to be as well-informed as possible about the psychological changes that occur in these transitional years.