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10 Tips For Parenting Teenagers

1. Give teenagers some room to explore. Teenagers need to learn to stand on their own two feet and that means allowing them an increasing degree of independence as time goes on. This does not mean that you should not keep an eye on them and steer them in the right direction, but do not be too quick to jump in.

2. Choose your battles wisely. Teenagers will always want to do things that you do not agree with but you do more harm than good if life becomes a constant battleground. If your son wants to grow his hair long then it's not the end of the world and it can always be cut short again later. However, if your daughter wants to get a tattoo, which she is going to have to live with for the rest of her life, then this is probably a battle worth fighting.

3. Invite your children's friends to the house. Most parents will have experienced their teenagers spending time with friends that you don't approve of, but almost as many parents make this judgment without ever having actually met these friends. There is also more than a little truth in the old saying that you should keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.

4. Have a set of rules and a system of discipline. Parents need to first come to agreement themselves on the rules for their teenagers and the appropriate punishment for breaking these rules so that they are both reading from the same page. Thereafter, kids should clearly know and understand the rules so that there is no surprise when they find themselves being punished for infringing them.

5. Have a system for 'keeping you informed'. Teenagers need to have a degree of freedom but you also need to have the peace of mind of knowing where they are and that they are safe. It is important to set up some sort of system for them to keep in touch with you and to get into the habit of, for example, telephoning when they are out for the evening to let you know that all is well.

6. Talk to children about the risks they face. Nowadays teenagers are surrounded by temptation and this very often brings with it considerable risk so, whether it's drugs, drinking and driving, premarital sex or anything else your children need to have their eyes opened for them before they venture out alone.

7. Teach you children how to deal with risk. Having opened a teenagers eyes to the risks of the modern world it is important that you also equip them to deal with those risks. For example, If the only way to get home from a party appears to be to climb into a car with a drunken friend then they need to know not only that this is a risk which they are not to take, but that they can telephone you whatever the time to come and pick them up.

8. Make sure you are always approachable. Take an interest in what your child is up to and make this a two-way conversation by sharing bits of your own day with your child and never simply interrogate a child about where he has been and what he has been up to. By making this a normal part of everyday life your child will then feel relaxed and confident about approaching you when he has a problem or needs advice.

9. Don't cushion your children from emotion. Life is an emotional roller-coaster and children need to learn to handle emotion. For example, if your child has done something wrong and perhaps hurt somebody else in the process then he should feel guilty. Experiencing emotions such as guilt and learning how to deal with them and to overcome them is a healthy part of growing up.

10. Remember that you are a role model. Children learn more by example than in any other fashion and your words and, more importantly, your actions will be extremely influential in your child's development.

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