It is not inevitable that parents and teenagers will clash. Many families remain relatively peaceful throughout the adolescent years. According to Thomas Gordon of Parent Effectiveness Training, “adolescents do not rebel against parents. They only rebel against certain destructive methods of discipline almost universally employed by parents.” Many parents of young children expect that they will have to accept that their adorable child will turn into a defiant teenager. This doesn’t need to happen if parents take the time starting at very young ages to follow these three simple steps.

1. Don’t try to fix everything. It is easy to offer advice when your child or teenager comes to tell you their strong feelings about something that has happened. Resist the urge to offer solutions and instead empathize with them. Show that you understand how hard it is for them right now, try your best to put yourself in their shoes and perhaps recall similar times in your life that you can share with them. This serves to help your child or teen feel that you don’t judge them, improves your relationship and makes it likely that they will continue to discuss their challenges with you.

2. Attempt to see yourself as a coach and not a boss. Think about influencing your child and teen instead of controlling them. Many parents feel that if they don’t tell their children what to do and how to feel that they won’t succeed in this world. On the contrary, today’s world requires independent, creative thinkers who won’t be developed unless they are allowed more freedom to problem solve and think for themselves. The goal of childhood is to eventually become a fully functioning and productive adult and by directing children and teens, they don’t learn how to direct themselves.

3. Get involved in their interests. Listen to music they like, watch TV they enjoy and find other ways to learn about their world. Many parents can be judgmental about the world today and say it was better when they were young. This does nothing to help a parent build a relationship with a child and instead creates more distance. Teens have no choice to be in the world they are in so if you can’t beat them, join them!

It is possible to enjoy your child throughout their childhood. There will be times due to brain growth and hormones that your teen is moody and difficult to be around. However, if these strategies are in place when your child is young or even if presently a teen, you will make it likely that you have a healthy long-term relationship, one where you will both want to spend time together and even look forward to it.

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