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Health & Parenting

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10 Parenting Tips for Raising Teenagers

How do you breach the barriers of adolescence? Here are 10 parenting tips for raising teenagers.
WebMD Feature

Your chatterbox son now answers your questions with a sullen "yes" or "no." Your charming daughter won't go to the store with you at all anymore. They must be teenagers. Don't despair. It's natural -- and important -- for kids to break away from their parents at this age. This emotional separation allows them to become well-adjusted adults.

Yet these must be among the most difficult years for any parent. To help with parenting tips, WebMD turned to three national experts:

Teens and Peer Pressure

So, just what high-risk behaviors might your adolescent feel pressured to engage in? Plenty, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which periodically conducts surveys on health-risk behaviors among youth. The latest survey results indicate that teen peer pressure is real. Many adolescents are engaging in behaviors that place their health at risk -- including cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and sexual activity. And in all likelihood, their peers are pushing them to try these behaviors.

Here are some of the survey's findings.

David Elkind, PhD, author of All Grown Up and No Place to Go and a professor of child development at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

Amy Bobrow, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor in the Child Study Center at New York University School of Medicine in Manhattan.

Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.

10 Parenting Tips

1. Give kids some leeway. Giving teens a chance to establish their own identity, giving them more independence, is essential to helping them establish their own place in the world. "But if it means he's going out with a bad crowd, that's another thing," says Elkind.

2. Choose your battles wisely. "Doing themselves harm or doing something that could be permanent (like a tattoo), those things matter," says Kaslow. "Purple hair, a messy room -- those don't matter." Don't nitpick.

3. Invite their friends for dinner. It helps to meet kids you have questions about. "You're not flat-out rejecting them, you're at least making an overture. When kids see them, see how their friends act with their parents, they can get a better sense of those friends," Elkind tells WebMD. "It's the old adage, you catch more bears with honey than vinegar. If you flatly say, you can't go out with those kids, it often can backfire -- it just increases the antagonism."

4. Decide rules and discipline in advance. "If it's a two-parent family, it's important for parents to have their own discussion, so they can come to some kind of agreement, so parents are on the same page," says Bobrow. Whether you ban them from driving for a week or a month, whether you ground them for a week, cut back on their allowance or Internet use -- whatever -- set it in advance. If the kid says it isn't fair, then you have to agree on what is fair punishment. Then, follow through with the consequences.

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