The adolescent years are associated as a turbulent time for teenagers. They may clash with their parents, make bad decisions, and indulge in precarious behaviours that warrant stricter parental controls. Parents often find themselves in the dilemma of choosing to give their teens the freedom to explore or to protect and be strict with their them.

Not sure how to tweak your parenting rules to keep up with your tween or teen? Here we list out some common mistakes that parents may make with their child to sour the relationship.

Directing Your Teen

You may be used to direct your child’s behaviours through setting boundaries with rules and regulations. Whilst this was an effective parenting strategyduring the earlier years of a child’s life, a desire for independence will develop as your child enters the adolescent years. As they understand the world, they too will develop their own preferences and want to make their own choices that affect their lives.

Teens are also at an age where they will be able to understand that violating your rules comes with consequences. Yet some teenagers want more control over their lives and may feel constrained by their parents’ restrictions.

Youth mentor and founder of the Dads for Life movement, Mr. Jason Wong, shared how his teenage son went through a rebellious streak where he disregarded school work. His wife would get caught up in nightly arguments with her son and both parties ended up going to bed annoyed with each other.

It was only when Mr. Wong guided his son through heartfelt conversations that a silver lining emerged. He reminded his son that he will be a father and husband some day and had to learn to respect women.

Instead of punishing his defiant teen, Mr. Wong treated his son like an adult. This trust enabled his son to broaden his mindset and see things from a different perspective, ultimately reducing the disagreements with his mother.

“As your children mature, parents should change their roles from being mainly caregivers, to counsellors. Parents who are always directing will jeopardise their teen’s decision-making abilities,” recounted Mr. Wong.

Assuming That Your Teen Has Everything Figured Out

Most adults have their lives sensibly figured out. Many have jobs and families. They have also gone through all the awkward puberty moments. On the contrary, teenagers are in a state of confusion.

Tweens and teens are still navigating their way through life and trying to figure out life’s challenges. Besides coping with the shift from primary to secondary school, they also deal with puberty and the awkward physical transformations that come with it.

Teens have to balance school and extra-curricular activities. On top of that, they are figuring out their interests. Many realise that the decisions they make now will impact the rest of their lives and the weight of such decisions could stress them out.

“It is a period where teens don’t know what’s happening to them. There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of figuring themselves out. Parents should make the effort to understand the many changes their teenage children are facing on a daily basis,” advised Mr. Wong.

Ignoring the Importance of Nurturance

As a former prison officer, Mr. Wong had seen a fair share of offenders. He shared that most of them come from broken or abusive families that had led to emotional insecurities. Most of the offenders were not shown enough love at home and joined gangs to find a sense of “family” and to feel like they belonged and were needed.

“I always say what the parents do in the first 10 years will determine what’s going to happen in the next 10. Create happy memories that will remind them that their parents have been there for them,” Mr. Wong stated.

Parents can try to empathise with their teens. If their teens are loved and treated well, it is more likely that they will grow up wanting to be helpful and respectful to others, and with the ability to provide empathy.

Tip: Mr. Wong advocates the importance of nurturing the parent-child bond by investing time and effort to strengthen the relationship . From young, parents can start creating memories with your children. These happy memories will comfort them and give them stability and assurance during their transition into teenage years. It can be as simple as indulging your child occasionally with ice cream when your child is young even when mummy explicitly said, “No ice-cream after school!” This memory will be treasured until adulthood, assured Mr. Wong.

Putting Pride over Love

Parents are the authority figureheads at home and can find that apologising to their child is hard because their pride is at stake.

Unmet needs and unhealed wounds can lead to adolescents acting out. Parents should put love before pride and be prepared to restore fractured relationships through the simple, yet difficult act of apologising.

“By saying sorry to their children, all barriers between the parent and the child break down and this helps to heal wounds on both sides,” emphasised Mr. Wong.

If you’ve said something unkind during an argument with your teen, be the first one to say sorry and ask for forgiveness. Be the role model for humility and your children will develop respect for you. This shows your teen that although to err is human, it is important to take responsibility.

Some of the information is drawn from articles that first appeared on Schoolbag by the Ministry of Education.