Many parents would agree it can be difficult to understand kids as they near adolescence. But it’s not impossible to recognize and then understand what tweens and teens are experiencing. They have increased academic challenges, physical changes, new schools and peers, and greater competition across their extracurricular activities.

We wanted to share a few thoughts we hope are helpful to you as parents of tweens and teens.

  • Clarify and discuss the rules with kids and also help them understand why those rules are in place. Try to understand their perspective; this is not only about enforcing rules. It is to ensure your underlying objectives are met, whether that’s respectful behavior, enough sleep for good health, safety, or other purpose.
  • Allow kids to make choices and mistakes. Tweens and teens can mature through independent decision-making. When they learn from their mistakes, they avoid making the same mistake twice.
  • Encourage independence and allow kids to learn through their own discoveries, not only your past experiences.
  • Recognize the importance of your role as parents. You are their role model. They are watching, taking cues and learning directly from you.
  • Take the time to know what is important to your kids. Understand their interests and their motivations to discover and learn.
  • Respect their choices when it comes to their extracurricular activities and goals.
  • Listen to what they have to say. They are learning about the world and taking on new adventures and challenges. Listen and understand their perspective.

The most difficult time to parent may be when kids are trying to push us away. Remind yourself that is when they need you most. Stay involved as your child becomes more independent. As they make their own choices within the parameters of your family values, you can support their growth and development.