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10 ways to deal with teenagers more effectively

Teen years can be among the most trying. (Yahoo! photo)Teen years can be among the most trying. (Yahoo! photo)

Maybe you’re a parent, teacher or youth worker who finds it frustrating to deal with teenagers.

Teenagers have so much energy and enthusiasm, but they also tend to be rebellious and hard to manage.

My work involves speaking to and mentoring teenagers on a regular basis. It’s a privilege to have already worked with thousands of them!

I enjoy interacting with teenagers, but they can definitely be a handful sometimes.

Based on the experiences I’ve had, here are 10 tips for dealing with teenagers more effectively:

1. Set clear boundaries

Once you’ve set these boundaries, stick to them. For example, if you decide that your 13-year-old son is only allowed to play computer games after he has completed his homework, be firm in enforcing this rule.

2. Show interest in their hobbies

Even if their hobbies are things that you don’t have any interest in at all (maybe it’s something like web design or rock music), make the effort to understand why they like it so much. Try out the activity for yourself!

Teenagers want to know that you care about them for who they are as individuals, not just for how well they perform in school.

3. Remind them that you care for them

This message doesn’t usually get communicated when you discipline or reprimand a teenager. Remind him or her that it’s because of your love and concern that you need to set boundaries and expectations.

4. Apologize if necessary

You’re not perfect, and neither am I. Teenagers are very aware of this, so when you commit a mistake, take the first step in making amends.

Teenagers greatly appreciate this, and they will learn from your example of honesty and humility.

5. Don’t bail them out

For instance, if your daughter forgets to bring her textbook to school, don’t bail her out. Let her deal with the consequences, so that she’ll learn to take complete responsibility for her own life.

6. Allow them to make their own choices

Teenagers still need guidance and support when making decisions, but it’s important to give them as much freedom as possible.

When it comes to decisions like what subjects to take in school or what extracurricular activities to participate in, parents should give them advice, but shouldn’t force them to make any one particular choice.

7. Stay calm

Handling teenagers can sometimes be confusing or frustrating. Nonetheless, it’s crucial that you muster all of your willpower to remain calm.

If you find that you’ve lost your temper—or if the teenager you’re talking to has already lost his or her temper—then take a break and discuss the issue later on when both of you have calmed down.

It’s almost impossible to reach a common understanding when either party is extremely angry.

8. Don’t claim to understand exactly what they are going through

Even though you’ve been a teenager before, times have changed. You don’t know exactly what it’s like to be a teenager today.

Whenever you claim to understand completely what they are experiencing, you make them feel misunderstood.

Instead, invite them to explain how they feel and ask them how you could be of better support to them.

9. Treat them with respect

No matter how upset you feel, don’t resort to calling him or her “useless” or a “failure” or a “spoiled brat”. Doing so is sure to cause strain in the relationship.

10. Don’t nag

Many parents I’ve spoken to feel as if nagging is their main weapon when it comes to dealing with teenagers.

Instead of nagging them, set clear expectations and explain the consequences if these expectations are not met.

For example, you might tell your teenaged son that he’s expected to keep to his curfew time, and that if he misses his curfew more than once in a month, that his allowance will be cut by 15% the following month for each subsequent time that he misses his curfew.

In closing…

Teenagers have abundant potential, which needs to be nurtured with wisdom and love.

I hope these 10 tips will help you to develop in today’s teenagers the world-changers and history-makers of tomorrow!

Daniel Wong is the bestselling author of "The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success". He offers The Exam Excellence (TEE) Mentoring Programme to help students to find exam success, while discovering new purpose in their journey of education. He writes regularly at www.daniel-wong.com. Download his FREE e-book,"The Unhappiness Manifesto: Do You Make These 150 Mistakes In The Pursuit Of Happiness?", here. Download his other FREE e-book, "Singapore Scholarship Guide: The $500,000 Decision", here.