The high school years can be tough. Early mornings, late nights filled with homework, and the stress of preparing for college can really take their toll on the developing teenagers in your life. These things — in addition to the fluctuating hormones their bodies are producing — can cause them to become irritable, moody, and sometimes even downright rude as they work to find their place in the world and discover who they are as people.
All of this stress and tension can make parenting during the high school years an unpleasant experience. Fortunately, there are ways to make this period of your child's life less stressful and more productive than you might have imagined.
We have put together a list of ways to help your teen not only get through those difficult high school years, but to actually thrive during this unique time in his or her life.
Offer Freedoms with Clear Boundaries
As teens blossom into young adults, they crave freedom from the near-constant parental supervision they've experienced until now. While it's not always a good idea to give your teenagers complete freedom just yet, it is perfectly okay and even helpful to give them some space.
That said, clear boundaries should most certainly be set, and any testing of these boundaries should be met with logical consequences.
For instance: Allowing your child to attend a party in a place you feel is safe, with a group of friends you know and trust, is a perfect way to allow your child some freedom. However, it is important to set clear rules and a curfew.
Teenagers who challenge these rules should be punished — not necessarily with grounding, but in a way that shows them the real-life consequences of their actions. This could mean requiring a child who stays out late and leaves you waiting up for them to get up when you do the next morning in order to show them what their lack of courtesy does to your schedule, or it could mean sending a child who is found to be abusing drugs or alcohol to a local rehab to volunteer and see just where that road can lead.
Encourage Passions and Interests
The best way to keep teenagers out of trouble and involved in the community is to encourage them to pursue their interests.
Is your child interested in acting? Send him or her to audition for the local community theater. Does your son or daughter enjoy playing soccer? Make sure he or she has the opportunity to play on various teams and encourage him or her to volunteer to help coach a kid's team.
By finding ways for teenagers to be involved in the world around them, you can discourage inappropriate behaviors, help them complete service hours, give them opportunities to build up their portfolio for college applications, and offer them a variety of chances to learn and grow in the hobbies they love most.
Show an Interest in Their Schooling
Children with parents who are genuinely interested in their education tend to do better in school.
This doesn't mean you need to sit down with them each night and help them do their homework. But, being available should an issue arise, asking how things are going at school on a regular basis, staying in touch with teachers, and providing supplies needed for school projects are all ways you can show a genuine interest in your teen's education. This will encourage them to stay on top of their grades and keep up with homework.
Hand Them Responsibilities
All teenagers should be helping out around the house. A high school student is perfectly capable of scrubbing a toilet, washing a load of laundry, or cleaning the kitchen. In fact, teenagers should be able to do all of these things and more before they ever leave for college. After all, mom and dad won't be around to carry out these tasks after they've moved out.
By giving your children responsibilities in their pre-teen and young teen years, you give them the gift of being able to care for themselves properly. So while your child may object when you tell them they are responsible for doing their own laundry, washing the dishes after dinner, or creating a grocery list, these are all things they should be required to do in order to help the family and develop their self-care skills for future use.
Teenagers are sometimes difficult to understand and communicate with. However, they are almost always interesting, unique, and capable individuals who deserve to be heard, respected, and trusted with responsibilities.
By offering your child the respect and opportunities he or she wants, needs, and deserves, you give him or her the chance to thrive throughout the teenage years and emerge as a well-rounded adult who is ready to take on the world.