January 30, 1998

Getting Through Adolescence: Tips for Parents/Guardians

Because teenagers are struggling with issues such as identity, puberty and independence, the developmental stage of adolescence can be difficult for both teens and their parents/guardians. Unfortunately, our society has stereotyped adolescence as the most dreadful and hideous stage of developmental growth; for these reasons, adults and teenagers probably become more worried about it than they really need to be.

One of the greatest fears parents have about adolescence is that their kid may behave in a way that could lead to something harmful such as drinking and driving. Because teenagers are facing new experiences every day, it is extremely important for adults to guide adolescents. The following are ways adults can support teenagers and help them safely through the stage of adolescence:

  • Educate yourself about adolescent development. Learn about the behaviors to expect, the effects of physical changes and ways to help your kid deal with change. (Click here to learn about adolescent development-- for adolescents in middle school to early high school and adolescents in late high school and beyond.)
  • Remember your own adolescence: your feelings, anger at authority, and fears and hopes. Look at your adolescent's behavior in the context of those memories to help you keep perspective.
  • Listen more than talk. Young people have spent at least a decade as listeners in most situations. During adolescence, they want and need the chance to share their feelings and ideas and to begin recasting family beliefs and traditions in light of their changing identity.
  • Use positive reinforcement for positive behavior whenever possible; it is far more effective than criticism or punishment for negative behavior. Words that belittle can hurt your adolescent's self-esteem. Love, sensitivity, praise and understanding are effective tools to use when dealing with adolescents.
  • Look for opportunities to allow your kid to test decision-making skills. Teaching your kid responsibility helps them make good decisions when faced in a position that may lead to risky health behaviors.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services "Supporting your adolescent: Tips for parents." 

[Catalog] [News] [Press Room] [Teacher Resources] [Community Bulletin Board]
[Parent's Resources] [Success Stories] [Sexual Responsibility] [Facts & Stats]
[Technical Support] [About CFOC] [Ask the Experts] [Pregnancy Clock] [Commercials]