So You’re Parenting a Teen?


I’m Not Sure How To Handle This New Teen Stage

Parenting is a journey. It’s a series of ages and stages of our child’s growth and development. Just when we think we have everything under control, a new stage hits and we’re scrambling for answers. If you find yourself feeling unsettled or unsure of things, you might be in the midst of one of these stage transitions with your child. Every new phase of parenting brings questions, especially if it’s your first time down this path, like in the teen years.

pre-teen yearsWhy is she acting this way? Now that she’s older, just how much freedom do I give her?

Sound familiar?

I recently had a conversation with Christi, a mom of a preteen named Annie. She’s ten and a “good kid,” except that she’s getting sassy and testing the limits.

First of all, let me say that kids this age are definitely in a transitional phase. Part of them wants to be “grown-up” and act like the older teens in their lives. The other half still wants to be a “kid” and play with toys and not worry about all that grown-up stuff.

Add to this, their bodies are changing and growing…sometimes at a rate that makes them feel clumsy, awkward and uncomfortable. I remember my kids’ shooting up in height so quickly and they would trip up the stairs like their legs weren’t working right!

Preteens are beginning to experience emotions (and hormones) they hadn’t felt before. Things may seem more dramatic, more traumatic than ever before. Even the little things are big things at this stage.

What Should You Expect From Your Teen?

The good news is that some kids slide right through this teen phase with little or no chaos. There might be some social or physical “odd moments” but for the most part, it’s no big deal.

There are other kids who hit the preteen stage and BAM, they suddenly have a mind of their own, want to make all their own decisions and YOU, my friend, are now the dumbest human being known to mankind. Yeah, welcome to the preteen years. I promise you can survive it as you learn lessons and with some strategies in place.

Christi and her daughter are somewhere in the middle of this teen mess…she’s not sliding through, but she’s also not out of control.

The ABC’s of Parenting

So, what can Christi do with her teen?

I suggested she use the “ABC’s of Parenting.” It’s a method I created and teach often, and it definitely works. It’s an effective way to communicate with your child, set boundaries and create options.

For Christi and her daughter, it starts with Acknowledging her daughter’s feelings. Annie is frustrated with her mom for treating her like a little girl and wants to have more independence. Saying to Annie, “Tell me why you’re feeling so upset with me and I promise I will listen and not get mad” could be the start of some great conversations.

Being clear about the expectations is the second step. “Your dad and I will allow you to do…., but we aren’t comfortable with you doing…..” will set the guidelines for her behavior.

Considering options is the last step. As a family, sit down and brainstorm options in a “win-win” frame of mind. This requires some give and take, some negotiations and a building of bridges.

Will Annie be allowed to do everything she wants to do with the older kids? No, not yet. While her parents may not agree to sleepovers with this group of friends, they may offer for her to stay a little later in the evening and then get picked up by her parents.

A word about negotiation…it’s not giving in! It’s hearing the other person’s perspective, sharing your own and making decisions based on what fits the family values together. (Download a FREE copy of the ABC’s of Parenting here.)

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Amy is a parenting and stepfamily coach, and mom to 3 adult kids (a teacher, a sheriff’s deputy, and a web app developer). Having grown up in NW Indiana, Amy is still a Hoosier at heart despite living 20 minutes from OSU. When she and her husband married, she left everything behind to join him here in Ohio for his job at Honda almost 30 years ago. While they enjoy having a grandbeardie named Gabe, and grandkittens Rosie and Suvi, they are very excited to welcome their first grandbaby into the family in April of 2020. When she’s not coaching parents or writing a new blog, you may find Amy in her role as Co-Chair of Drug Safe Worthington or her part-time job with the Worthington School District as a parenting educator for the INSIGHT program for parents and teens. Amy credits her parents, Joe and Elaine Rizzardo, for being her inspiration and role model for strong partnerships in parenting. In her free time, you’ll find her wandering the yarn aisles in craft stores looking for the softest yarn for her latest projects (there is always more than one going!).