Positive parenting: Is this an idea best left to the preschool set, or does it work for teens too? Here’s a little secret: It totally works for teenagers.
The idea is that you build up your child by establishing an environment with both boundaries and the freedom to make choices. Your parenting is guided by the desire for a strong-parent child relationship, and you strive to support your teens’ interests and desires.
Doesn’t that sound like a setting that’s ideal for helping teens thrive on the path to maturity?
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Why Try This with Teens?
We’ve all seen how teenagers are often portrayed: wild and rebellious. That’s not what you want for your teens, but how can you avoid it?
Teenagers often rebel against parenting that’s too strict. When parents try to control all aspects of teens’ lives and punish their students when it doesn’t work, the results aren’t usually pretty.
On the other hand, permissive parenting doesn’t work either. With no boundaries, teens have a hard time developing maturity or good decision-making skills.
A positive approach meets teens’ needs in a healthy way. It balances structure with freedom so kids have a safe space in which to learn to spread their wings.
How Can You Know This Will Work?
There are no guarantees in life or parenting, but studies about a positive approach to parenting indicate that it is a good way to raise kids who turn out pretty great.
One scientific study tracked adolescents who grew up in poverty situations. The teens whose parents interacted with them in a positive manner were better able to overcome the negative developmental effects of poverty than those who didn’t experience positive parental interactions.
In another study, teens whose parents were involved in their schooling while also granting them the freedom to make autonomous choices were more likely to be academically successful than other students. In a similar study, a positive relationship coupled with high expectations seemed to be the key to a healthy attitude toward school.
In yet another study, teens were less likely to engage in risky behavior if they were raised in an environment that valued good communication, a positive relationship, and plenty of parental supervision.
Is It Too Late to Start?
As long as your kids are still in your home, there’s no such thing as too late to aim for a good relationship with them.
In fact, the teen years can be a great time to make this shift. At this age, you should be stepping back and allowing kids more and more opportunities to make their own choices.
With a positive-parenting style, you establish a framework of expectations, but you let your kids make their own choices and live with the consequences.
If you haven’t been raising your kids according to positive practices up until now, it may take a while to see results. Be patient, though; your efforts will slowly begin to show the fruit of strengthened relationships.
Practically Speaking, What Does This Look Like?
By now, you probably understand that there is great value in raising your teenagers in a positive environment. What should you do during the teenage years to establish this sort of home life for your family?
- Get to know your kids’ friends. Take interest in your students’ hobbies, clubs and passions.
- Encourage dialogue about how to accomplish tasks that need to be done, whether schoolwork, housework or personal care.
- Give your teens privacy. Although closeness is important, you don’t want to come across as invasive or overbearing.
- Have fun with your teenagers. Go places together or do engage in fun activities at home. Follow your teens’ lead.
- Make sure your teens feel respected. Ask their opinions, withhold judgment, and converse without interrupting or lecturing.
- Keep an open line of communication about sex, drugs and self-harm.
- Encourage your child to hold a job or do volunteer work. Discuss what being responsible and dependable in that position looks like.
- Pick your battles. Avoid fights over inconsequential matters.
- Don’t fix everything for your teens. Allow them to experience the natural consequences of their choices.
- Avoid doling out punishments. Encourage your teens to make right choices out of a desire to maintain right relationships.
Growing Great Teens with Positive Discipline
A positive-parenting approach to raising teens gives them a solid foundation and equips them with the skills to make good choices. Open communication, non-punitive discipline approaches, and healthy parent-child relationships foster an atmosphere in which teenagers can thrive mentally, academically and behaviorally.
Hopefully, with positive-parenting techniques on your side, your kids’ teen years will prepare them to become fantastic adults with whom you’ll want to be good friends.