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Parenting in the Teen Years

As children enter the teenage years, they face many opportunities and challenges. They are learning to adjust to physical and social changes and to manage their feelings. You may notice that they want more independence and to make their own decisions. Keep in mind that teenagers still need guidance and support from parents and other caring adults. Positive, caring relationships help them to do well at home and in school. Here are some tips for supporting your teen:

Understand the importance of friendships

Having a sense of belonging is very important for teens. Some are naturally outgoing and make friends easily while others find it hard to build friendships. If your teen wants to make new friends, help them to think about their own interests and qualities to look for in a friend. Remind them that it’s the quality of friendships (and not the number of friends they have) that matters. Make their friends welcome in your home, and get to know them. Be sure to talk to your teen about potentially negative aspects of friendships too. Help them to plan and be prepared for what to do if friends pressure them into risky behaviour or negative social situations.

Health matters

Show Support: Teens may feel insecure about their appearance, size, physical skills and strength. Help them to recognize their personal strengths and role model an accepting, positive attitude for people of all shapes and sizes.

Fuel: Teens need to fuel their bodies with healthy foods. Make it easy for your teen by making healthy foods the easiest ones for them to access when they are hungry. Focus on whole grains, vegetables and fruits, lean meats and low-fat milk products. Minimize processed foods by preparing more meals and snacks at home. Plan ahead and have consistent meal and snack times. Eat together as a family as much as possible.

Get Active: Encourage your teen to be do something active every day (like taking up a sport or going for a walk). Being active daily helps them to have energy, cope with stress, and sleep better.

Sleep: Teens need 9-10 hours of sleep each day, as their bodies and minds are growing. Turning off technology early in the evening will help ensure a good night’s sleep.

Recent local data on children between the ages of 12 and 17 in Simcoe Muskoka has been gathered and can be viewed here: 

For an in depth look at Youth Health in Simcoe Muskoka, a full report is also available.

Be nurturing and involved

Spend quality time with your teen every day. A few minutes of your full attention really matters. Show affection and interest in their day and let them know you’re ready to listen when they need you. Talking with your teen gives you both an opportunity to share opinions and beliefs, and helps build mutual respect and trust. When they have a problem, try not to jump in and solve it because this is a skill they need to develop. Understand that sometimes they may want to talk to someone other than a parent. Help them make connections with other trusted and caring adults to build their network of support.

Build on their strengths and assets

Tell them often what strengths they have already and help them to build more! Developmental Assets are traits, values and experiences that all young people need to be healthy, successful and reach their full potential. The more assets your teen has, the more likely they are to thrive, make healthy choices, and avoid harmful behaviours. Take a look at the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets® for ideas and ways to support your teen to succeed.

Be connected to the school

Get to know the teachers, as they will know and be able to suggest strategies to help your teen adjust to new classes, new environments and expectations. Schools also benefit from parent and caregivers being involved. Check out the next school council meeting and work on ways to create a healthy school.

Encourage your teen to volunteer or join school activities, sports and groups as a way to meet, be connected to others and use their time constructively. Teens can get involved in initiatives and take action on social issues that matter to them. Being involved in projects that are meaningful to them helps build self-esteem and confidence.

Have realistic expectations

Teens often want more freedom as well as greater privacy. Support your teen to work towards this with assertive discipline. Negotiate rules and responsibilities together. Monitor your teen’s behaviour by being present before and after they go out and asking a few questions to check in. Plan ahead together how they can manage unexpected situations (needing a ride home, handling peer pressure, etc.) Be consistent with clear expectations and act quickly when a problem occurs. When you are fair and predictable with discipline, teens learn to accept responsibility for their behavior, think about the needs of others, develop self-control and are less likely to have behavior problems.

Create a supportive home environment

Help your teen to become independent and responsible by gradually shifting responsibilities like setting alarm, packing lunch, managing time and being organized. Have a quiet, comfortable study place for homework with the materials they need to work effectively and build a study plan. Watch your teen’s efforts and comment on what they are doing well, how they are improving every day. Take care of your own needs, do things you enjoy and role model a healthy lifestyle. Parenting support can also help to share ideas and build your confidence.

Additional Resources

Triple P Parenting is for every parent and caregiver, whether you have a specific problem or are looking for advice on common, everyday issues. Triple P provides easy to use tips and ideas that will help you understand your teen, improve your relationship, and support your teen to become responsible, confident, and resilient. Triple P help is available in many ways - you can talk with someone over the phone, meet in person, or come to a group. Triple P can even be arranged to be delivered at your school! To learn more about Triple P, visit the Triple P Ontario Website, contact Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 and/or click here for Simcoe Muskoka Triple P program locations, dates and times.

Visit the Parents section of our website for accurate and reliable information, resources, programs and services. For more information or if you would like to speak to a public health nurse, contact Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

Parent Toolkit: Teen Edition for tips, suggestions and resources for parents to help their teen succeed.

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