Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mistakes Parents Make with Teens and Tweens

It is probably one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs there is.  Although there are many times you have to look hard for those rewards, as they can become hidden during those teen-hood and pre-teen times, you will eventually see them. 

WebMD put together five mistakes that parents make with teens and tweens.  As second semester is progressing, there are many parents struggling with their kids to understand the importance of finishing school and doing well in it.  As with many adolescents, they see their social life is more of their priority.

Teen Parenting Mistake # 1: Expect the Worst
Teenagers get a bad rap, says Richard Lerner, PhD, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Many parents approach raising teenagers as an ordeal, believing they can only watch helplessly as their lovable children transform into unpredictable monsters. Expecting the worst sets parents and teens up for several unhappy, unsatisfying years together.

Teen Parenting Mistake #2: Read Too Many Parenting Books
Rather than trusting their instincts, many parents turn to outside experts for advice on how to raise teens. “Parents can tie themselves into knots trying to follow the advice they read in books,” says Robert Evans, EdD, executive director of the Human Relations Service, Wellesley, Mass., and author of Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Child Rearing.

“Books become a problem when parents use them to replace their own innate skills,” Evans tells WebMD. “If the recommendations and their personal style don’t fit, parents wind up more anxious and less confident with their own children.
Use books (and articles like this) to get perspective on confusing behavior and then put them down. Spend the extra time talking with your spouse and children, getting clear about what matters most to you and your family.

Teen Parenting Mistake #3: Sweat the Small Stuff
Maybe you don’t like your daughter’s haircut or choice of clothes. Or perhaps she didn’t get the part in the play you know she deserves. Before you intervene, look at the big picture. If a certain mode of self-expression or set of events does not put your child at risk, give her the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions and live with the results.

Teen Parenting Mistake # 4: Ignore the Big Stuff
If you suspect your child is using alcohol or drugs, do not look the other way. Parents should address suspected drug or alcohol use right away, before it escalates into a bigger problem, says Amelia M. Arria, PhD, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

The years when kids are between 13 and 18 years old are an essential time for parents to stay involved,” Arria tells WebMD. Parents might consider teen drinking a rite of passage because they drank when they were that age. “But the stakes are higher now,” she says.

More drugs are available today, illegal drugs and legal medications. For example, cough remedies with DXM (dextromethorphan) have become a new drug of choice for some teens. DXM is easy to get and teens and parents alike underrate its potential dangers. Studies show that between 7% and 10% of U.S. teens have reported abusing cough medicine to get high. Although safe when used as directed, DXM can cause hallucinations and disassociations similar to PCP or ketamine (Special K) when used in excessive amounts, as well as rapid heartbeat, unconsciousness, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Watch for unexplained changes in your teen’s behavior, appearance, academic performance, and friends. If you find empty cough medicine packaging in your child’s trash or backpack, if bottles of medicine go missing from your cabinet, or if you find unfamiliar pills, pipes, rolling papers, or matches, your child could be abusing drugs. Take these signs seriously and get involved. Safeguard all the medicines you have: Know which products are in your home and how much medication is in each package or bottle.

Mistake #5: Rule With an Iron Fist, or Kid Gloves
Some parents, sensing a loss of control over their teens’ behavior, crack down every time their child steps out of line. Every day brings a new punishment. The home becomes a war zone. By contrast, other parents avoid all conflict for fear their teens will push them away. They put being a cool parent ahead of setting limits and enforcing rules. For these parents, discipline is a dirty word.

To read the complete report by Joanne Barker, visit

It is very easy for outsiders to judge and give advice about raising our teens.  Remember, each family is unique and each child is different.  Although some people believe in the tough love approach, it is diffcult to employ when your teens are still minors.

In Broward County there is a Florida’s Children Trust Line at 2-1-1 that can offer you resources and information to help you help your family.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Continue reading on 5 Parenting mistakes with teens and tweens – Fort Lauderdale Parenting Teens |

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