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
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
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
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.
5. Discuss 'checking in.' "Give teens age-appropriate
autonomy, especially if they behave appropriately," says Kaslow. "But you need
to know where they are. That's part of responsible parenting. If it feels
necessary, require them to call you during the evening, to check in. But that
depends on the teen, how responsible they have been."
6. Talk to teens about risks. Whether it's drugs, driving, or premarital sex, your kids need to
know the worst that could happen.