“But I’m almost 18!”
Age is not what makes someone mature, it’s experience and responsibility. There is nothing a teenager desires more than to have greater freedom. Teens want to be able to have later curfews, opportunities to use the family car, choose how much time they spend online, and what time to go to sleep. If there is one overall theme to this teens parenting checklist it’s this: freedom isn’t free - with greater independence comes responsibility. Allowing your teen more decision-making opportunities provides them chances to make mistakes and learn from these mistakes. Only when your teen realizes that for every choice comes a consequence, will they be empowered to take responsibility as a mature person.
Forming identity is a time of opportunity, not turbulation
So often we imagine the second decade of life as a time of turmoil, when it should rather be seen as a time of opportunity. One of the ways for a teen to achieve their ultimate goal of autonomy is learning to rely on themselves to make choices as a self-governing person. On every teens parenting checklist is to provide support and encouragement for their teen to form their identity. This involves mental, emotional, psychological, and social growth skills that help a teen become a well-rounded and competent person. Thanks to productive teens parenting, this process of exploring ways of dressing, speaking, and interacting is an exciting time for a teen - certainly new behavior is not necessarily a cause for alarm, it’s simply a part of growing up. As long as boundaries regarding personal safety for themselves and others are established, as well as the lines of communication are open, then the teen will be better equipped to discover who they are and want to become.
Technology and identity formation
On the topic of identity formation comes an important addition to the digital parenting checklist: social media and the Internet. So much of forming one’s identity is based on social influences, particularly on social networks. While teens must feel freedom to explore identities and embrace who they want to be, parents must set boundaries, such as what kind of online influences are encouraged, and what websites and personalities are to be avoided.
Facts, not “I told you so’s.”
Part of every digital parenting checklist is the reminder to include facts when speaking with their teens. Scare tactics, or “I told you so’s” don’t fly in the modern age. While teens may be more connected with one another and the outside world than ever before, they are inundated with information overload. And while they may have access to more information, they are often less informed. Ironic, isn’t it? This is where you come in. When speaking with your teen about online safety or other important topic, include facts. Unlike the Internet that is so much about the latest trends, you have the advantage of bringing your teen a historical perspective. After all, if we don’t remember history, we tend to relive it.
Keep calm and carry on
You’ve certainly had the experience of dealing with a customer service representative on the phone. When interacting with such people, which approach wins out: yelling and name calling or a calm demeanor? While your teen isn’t a customer service representative, when interacting with him or her in heated discussions, it’s best to stay calm. So put a special star next to this point on your teens parenting checklist: communicate clearly with your teen using a calm voice and choose your words carefully.
Pick your battles
No one benefits from a combative home life, least of all the teenager. A harmonious home is one in which little annoyances are “let go.” You’re familiar with the quote, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” That is a fantastic mantra to keep in mind when living with your teen. Why? Because if you DO sweat the small stuff, you may not have energy to fight for the big stuff - i.e, the issues that are relevant in the grand scheme of things.
It takes a village
We’re a social species. In the past, children weren’t raised just by Mother and Father, but by an entire village. Once a child reached adolescence and went through the natural process of rejecting their parents, they fell back on the support of extended relatives and the village community. Sadly, these days many teens don’t have constant support from extended family nor trusted community leaders. Prioritize community on your parenting checklist. If you initiate relationships between your teen and trusted mentors, you ensure they have a safe adult to receive guidance from when they inevitably have their moments of turning their backs on you.
Parent support group
Consider starting a digital parenting checklist with other parents online. Through finding innovative solutions to common teen issues, as well as staying updated from other parents of teens in your child’s social circle, you can stay better informed of what your teen is going through.
Nine hours of sleep
One of the most important tasks you can do as a parent is to help your teen achieve nine hours of sleep each night. Research studies have revealed that sleep is a productive time for a teen in which the brain consolidates and files away the valuable information and experiences absorbed during the day. Is your teen losing sleep due to staying up late online? Find out if your teen is addicted to the Internet, and what you can do to help.