Parenting Tool Kit
The teen years can be a difficult time for many parents. Teens are navigating through that grey area of wanting to be independent, but still needing their parent’s guidance. This often causes conflict in the home as teens push their boundaries. Many parents think the solution is to be their child’s friend but teens don’t need their parents’ friendship’s they need their parents to be the adults and set reasonable limits. Studies show that teens still view their parents as the strongest influence in their lives, even more than their peers. This tool kit is designed to help parents be strong and be there for their teens. Parents are Powerful!
In Your Home
Do you monitor teens while they are in your home? Do your children know what the expectations are when they invite friends over? What about setting a curfew and house rules? It is important to make your expectations clear in these areas, and here are some suggestions:
- Get to know the names of the friends your teen is inviting over. Welcome them into your home by name.
- Let your teens know that they are not allowed to have friends over when you are away.
- Be present and monitor the gathering if your child is having a party.
- Let your teen know that alcohol, tobacco and other drugs will not be permitted. This is especially important during prom and graduation season. Often parents view these events as rites of passage and allow drinking. Remember, underage drinking is against the law and providing alcohol to minors carries stiff penalties.
- Provide appropriate snacks and beverages.
- Remain aware of the levels of any open bottles of alcohol and wine and the number of bottles. Open bottles of vodka are the easiest for teens to tamper with. If they replace the removed vodka with water, you may never know. Lock up your alcohol if you feel it is necessary.
- Be alert to signs of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. If a guest in your home appears to be impaired in any way, be willing to call his or her parents.
- Have an open conversation about what a reasonable curfew would be.
- Set a curfew that is appropriate for your child.
- Once the rules have been set and agreed upon, avoid argumentation and negotiating, but keep in mind that sometimes flexibility is called for.
- With any house rules, be sure to tell your child that the rules exist because you love them and care what happens to them and their friends. The issue of trust is not the primary reason for the rules.
Do you know the parents of your children’s friends? Do you verify safe situations and supervised parties in other homes? Do you welcome telephone calls at your home verifying supervision of gatherings? It’s okay to make the call to another parent and welcome calls from parents. Doing so helps everyone to know they have allies!
- Make the call! This could be the first time the parent knew about the gathering. Remember this applies to after school, too. Many teenagers get into trouble between 3 and 6 pm.
- Let your child know you will be calling the parent who is hosting the party.
- Offer to bring snacks to a party.
- If parents indicate they will not be home, offer to host your child’s friends at your own home.
- Avoid judgmental terms and tones.
- Offer to help supervise a party.
- Ask the parent’s opinion on alcohol and underage drinking.
- Invite other parents to help chaperone a party in your home.
Do you talk to your teen daily? It is not always easy, but it is one of the most important ways that you can show your support. Use these tips to help you talk to your teens about anything.
- Create an open environment.
- Consider your teen’s temperament.
- Show respect for your child’s feelings and ask their opinion.
- Always be honest; if you don’t know something, admit it.
- Use age-appropriate language.
- Get feedback.
- Be patient, don’t interrupt.
- Give them your undivided attention.
- Speak separately to kids of different ages.
- Most importantly…listen. Listen to the little stuff. Listen between the lines.
- Use dialogue builders:
- “What do you think…?”
- “How else could you…”
- “Tell me about it…”
- “Sounds like you are saying…”
- “Do you mean that…”
- “When that happens to me I feel like…”
- “That must make you feel…”
- “I am worried about you. You look… or You sound…”
- Be sure to talk about values and attitudes like respect, cooperation, honesty, service and compassion.
- Use dialogue builders:
Do you attempt to meet your child’s friends? Knowing your child’s friends and their parents is relatively easy in elementary school, but as your child moves to middle school and high school it is increasingly difficult to know your teen’s friends. Here are some tips to help you navigate this tricky world:
- Try and meet all of your teen’s friends (host them at your house).
- Get to know their names and faces.
- Do not allow your teen to go over to anyone’s house to hang out unless you have met that teen, have seen the house, know the address, know how to get there and have met or called the other parents.
- Remember, a change in sport team, club or other group can mean a new group of friends. Attending these activities will give you the opportunity to meet other parents and let your teen know that you care.
Do you call authorities or other parents to report unsafe situations, parties or gatherings? It is important to remain aware of what is happening in your community or neighborhood.
- Talk to your neighbors about monitoring activity at each other’s homes when you are away.
- Address any risky activities directly, especially in a bullying or drunk driving situation.
- Attempt to contact the child’s parents.
- Attempt to enlist the help of other parents in the vicinity.
- Do not let any teens drive away intoxicated.
- Compliment and assist any teens who you see trying to resolve the situation.
- Call authorities when necessary.
- Be prepared for negative comments and prepare your child for any negative comments they may hear. Explain that you are doing what you think is the safest thing for everyone involved.
Even though your teens may act as though they do not want to hear what you have to say, they still need help from time to time learning how to handle difficult situations. Often times, teens go along with behavior that they are not comfortable with because they are afraid of losing friends, being left out or looking un-cool. The following tips can help you help your child develop strong refusal skills:
- Make a joke. Sometimes humor is the best way to respond to a situation, as it can lighten a serious mood. It can also divert attention away from you and onto something else.
- Give a reason why it’s a bad idea for you. Maybe you can’t smoke because you want to be able to run the mile in track. Maybe you don’t want to drink because you have a family member who has a drinking problem. Backing up your refusal with evidence gives it more power.
- Make an excuse. Maybe you have something else to do, or maybe your parents will kill you. Whatever. But say it and stick to it.
- Just say no, plainly and firmly. In some situations, that is the best response. Just make sure your no is a strong, determined one.
- Suggest an alternative activity. By thinking of something better to do, you’re offering everyone an out. You might be surprised how many people take you up on it.
- Leave the situation. If you don’t like where things are headed, you can take off. Most likely, others will follow you.
- Thanks, but no thanks. You can be polite and say you just aren’t interested. It isn’t something you’re into.