Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tips for Parenting Teens

Tips from Auntie
I know I'm not the only person out there whose pulling their hair out because of teens. Don't get me wrong, I would be a lost soul without my niece and nephew, but lately, my little darlings have changed. The change is a developmental one, called pre-teen and teen. Wow, how did we get here already? One morning as I waited for these two sweet kids to skip downstairs for breakfast, I was stunned to realize that someone had performed some kind of switch. You know, like in the movies, "The Stepford Wives or Body Snatchers." My perfect niece and nephew were now people I didn't recognize.

In past writings I have mentioned that I am helping my twin sister raise her two, beautiful children. It is both an honor and a privilege. As with anything great and well worth it, there is always going to be challenges and struggles. Here are some ideas that may help, as you enter the "Teenage Zone." Good luck and happy parenting.

Talk slow, loud and clear when asking your teen to do chores as they are great fakers. They like to pretend they either don't hear you or they don't understand you. I believe my dad use to call this "Selective Hearing", when I was a teen.

Teens love to shirk chores and moan and groan until your so exasperated you figure you might as well do it yourself, but don't. I like to use the parenting method I call "It is your choice." Now I don't waste my energy begging them to help out. Once I pull the ole, "well, if you don't dump the garbage, I guess we can't go to the beach this afternoon, but it's your choice."

Don't be naive and assume that your teen is listening to you as you speak to them. Recently when I drove my nephew home from school, he pulled the major, Blow Off! This means that they answer you by just picking out a few words from the conversation. I have become a master at knowing when I am being answered, with no real understanding of what I really said. On this particular day, I said that I had an errand to run in town. I thoughtfully stated that I would bring him to Jimmy John's (his favorite fast food sandwich shop) for his after school snack, since it was close by. As I said the words, "Jimmy John's", he suddenly came to life and looked at me. I said, " did you hear what I just said?" He stumbled over his words to make it sound like he did, but eventually admitted he only heard the words, "Jimmy John's." I begrudgingly re-stated the story I had told him. He laughed and apologized for blowing me off.

Know where the teens cell phones, ipods or other electronics are located at all times. In our house we have family time following dinner. We watch t.v., play games or just relax. The rule is that during family time, no-one (including mom and aunt) can be distracted by electronics. Little did Laura and I know that when we thought the kids were being little angels and following the rules, they were up to no good. While we were thinking they were quietly watching a family movie or show, they were really on one of their electronics. I figured this out when I noticed a Glowing Light under my nephews blanket. Busted! He can't get away with this little trick anymore.

Know when to be quiet with your teen as it can be hazardous your health. Lately, when my niece is upset (which is pretty much All The Time), I have learned that the best policy is to stay Quiet and Calm, lest you want to see a little girl turn into a mini monster. Here is an example: Ellie-(in a whining, screaming voice), "where are my new shorts?" Auntie- "I just put them in your upper drawer." Ellie-"Quit yelling at me auntie." Auntie-"Honey, I'm not yelling." Ellie-"I just asked you nicely where my shorts are and now your yelling at me." I now know, that you just stay quiet. Answer the question and quietly walk away, even if your teen is freaking out at you. Added replies from you will just make a bad situation worse.

Don't ever admit to buying clothes anywhere other than the popular, big name stores that teens deem cool. Laura and I have learned that when you buy clothes at sears or second hand stores, you tell the teen that you bought them at Abercrombie, American Eagle and the like. The times we've been honest, the clothes were never worn. Also, when shopping with your teen, Never say you picked something out for them to try on. I always say, "try this on, the cool sales lady thought you would look great in this." When I use to admit it was me picking out an outfit, I would get the big eye roll followed by a rude comment, like, "This is gross, I can't believe you think this is cute."

Don't take teen behavior personally. They are acting and behaving normal for this developmental stage. Stay strong and talk to other parents that have teens or those who have already been through it.

When your having one of those really tough days with your teen, just remember this stage won't last forever. Some day we might even miss all this hormonal drama? and the important thing to remind ourselves is how much we love them.

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