When it comes to parenting, especially parenting teenagers, it is important to practice what you preach. Our children learn how to act, how to react, how to treat others, and how to treat themselves by watching us. If we, as parents, don’t show our children how to act as often as we tell them, we aren’t likely to see the kind of behavior we desire. So, if you are struggling with your teen’s behavior and you feel like all the shouting in the world isn’t getting you anywhere, it may be time to take a step back and make sure you are providing a healthy model for them to follow.
1. Live the Golden Rule
You may not have thought much about the golden rule since you left the playground but it is one of the best ways to teach your teen how to treat others. If you are disrespectful to authority figures, other family members, or your teenager, you are showing them that it is ok for them to treat others that way too, including you. Treat them the way you want them to treat you so that they have a healthy model to follow.
2. Be Polite
There isn’t any reason you can’t say “please” and “thank you” to your teenagers just like you would to any stranger on the street. If you want a child who is polite to others, show them how to do it in your interactions with others.
3. Fight Fair
There will always be times when parents and teenagers will clash and when that happens the thing that will matters most is how you fight with them. Name calling, cursing, and shaming are all things adults do when they fight with others but these tactics are never the right way to resolve conflict. Show your teenager how to deal with differences of opinion and disagreements by using healthy conflict resolution strategies rather than going toe to toe and matching blow with blow. If you don’t know how to do this, get help from a conflict resolution expert or mental health provider.
4. Say You Are Sorry
No matter how hard we try, we parents are still fallible humans and there will be times we mess up, make the wrong decision, or say something we don’t mean. The most important thing you can do during these times is to acknowledge your mistake, say you are sorry if it is appropriate, and allow your teenager to see that screwing up is ok. You are letting them know that you don’t expect perfection while also showing them the importance of being responsible for your actions.
5. Consistency is Key
While no one is perfect all the time, it is important to strive toward a level of consistency that provides your child with a good map of expected behavior. If today you are polite and apologetic and tomorrow you are screaming and calling names, the good behavior can get muddled up with the bad leaving your teen to determine the right way.