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Parenting in the Teen Years

As a teenager, your child is learning to adjust to physical and social changes and to manage their feelings. Although they often want more independence and to make their own decisions, they still need your guidance and support as they encounter new opportunities, make decisions, and face challenges.  Positive, caring relationships help them to do well at home and in school. Keep these important tips in mind, as you navigate through parenting your child in the teenage years.

Friendships are Important

Some teens 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. Emphasize 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. Help them to plan and be prepared for what to do if friends pressure them into risky behaviour or negative social situations.

Health Matters

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

Fuel: Make it easy for your teen to fuel their bodies by making healthy foods easily available when they are hungry. Focus on whole grains, vegetables and fruits, lean meats and low-fat milk products. Limit processed foods by preparing meals and snacks at home. Eat together as a family as much as possible.

Activity: Encourage your teen to be do something active every day. It can be as simple as going for a walk. Being active helps them to have energy, cope with stress, and sleep better.

Sleep: Teens need 9-10 hours of sleep, 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: 
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Substance Use
  •  For an in depth look at Youth Health in Simcoe Muskoka, a full report is also available.
    Be Caring and Stay Involved
    Spend quality time with your teen. A few minutes of your full attention really matters. Show affection, interest in their day and let them know you’re ready to listen when they need you. Talking with your teen 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. Some teens 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
    Remind your teen of what they are good at already and help them to build more skills. There are certain traits, values and experiences that can help young people to succeed. 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.
    Stay Connected with Their School

    Get to know the teachers! They can suggest ideas to help your teen do well in class and in school. High school in particular often has new routines and expectations. Schools also appreciate when parent and caregivers get involved, so check out the next school council meeting. Encourage your teen to join school activities too. Sports and groups as a way to meet and be connected to others. Teens can get involved in initiatives and take action on social issues that matter to them. Being involved in projects helps build self-esteem and confidence.

    Encourage Independence and Problem Solving
    Teens often want to have the freedom to make their own decisions. Help your teen practice and become skilled in planning for and making good decisions about important situations. Talk with your teen to understand their point of view on things. Going to a job interview, a party, or preparing for exams? Plan, problem solve and make decisions together. Be available to your teen when they want to talk and ask a few questions to check in on how they are doing. Come up with a plan together for unexpected situations like needing a ride home and handling peer pressure. Be consistent with clear expectations and act quickly when a problem occurs. When you are fair, approachable and predictable with parenting, teens learn to over time to be responsible think about the needs of others and are less likely to have behavior problems.
    Provide a Supportive Home Environment
    Help your teen become independent and responsible, gradually shifting responsibilities like packing lunch, managing their time and being organized. Have a quiet, comfortable study place for homework with the materials they need to work. 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.
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