Teenagers learn a lot from their interactions with their parents and from life at home. Even though they are at an age where their friends’ approval weighs heavily in their decisions, their parents’ opinion still matters.
No one is perfect, and there is no guidebook to being the perfect parent! In any case, perfection is not the goal (which will come as a relief to many!). That said, certain parenting practices are known to have a positive influence on the development, health, well-being, and academic success of teenagers. Positive parenting practices can even lessen the negative influence that others may have on teenagers, even in underprivileged neighbourhoods.
What are positive parenting practices?
Parenting practices are all the day-to-day actions that parents do for and with their children. In concrete terms, positive parenting practices can be grouped into four broad categories.
Communicate with your teen by asking about their day at school and expressing interest in their activities. This helps maintain a good relationship and conveys information and values. But beware: Figuring out the right time to talk to your teen can be tricky!
Parents also need to supervise and set boundaries for their teen. During adolescence, it is important to set clear, realistic rules that apply fairly to all siblings. However, the rules do not have to be rigid and unilateral. Rather, take the time to discuss them with your teen, and be open to negotiating and adapting them as your teen develops and matures. Also, remember that the punishments need to be logical and consistent, and, above all, you must be able to realistically apply them.
Being a parent also means supporting, guiding and being there for your teenager, namely by applauding their efforts, celebrating their successes, helping them view situations or problems from different angles, making sure they know how to reach you at all times and vice versa, etc.
Molding the home environment
You need to make sure your home is a comfortable, reassuring, healthy and safe environment that is conducive to the development, health, and well-being of all family members.
Specific examples for each topic
Would you like more examples? You will find examples of positive parenting practices for each topic discussed on this website. But remember: As a parent, you are the best judge of how to act and the values you want to pass on to your child. Each teenager—and indeed, each parent—is unique, which brings up a different set of challenges depending on the family, culture, background, etc.
Finally, it is important to stay vigilant when your teen is going through a major life change, for example, starting high school, parents separating, moving, starting a first job, making new friends, dating a new person, declining grades, drinking for the first time, etc.
These things are likely to make your teen feel more vulnerable, but they also have the potential to teach them a lot about themselves and society at large.
Certain parenting practices should be avoided:
- Controlling, invasive or aggressive behaviour;
- Corporal punishment;
- Inconsistent or unpredictable disciplinary measures;
- Lack of discipline.
- Positive parenting practices have a good influence on your teen’s development.
- The main positive parenting practices are communication, support, supervision/guidance, and molding the home environment.
- Stay vigilant when your teen is going through major life changes, which are moments when they may be most fragile.
- As a parent, putting yourself in your teenager’s shoes can sometimes be an awkward experience. You might feel uncomfortable discussing certain topics (e.g., sexuality, drugs) or answering certain questions. In that case, it is best to admit your discomfort to your teen, give them as much information as you can, and refer them to a trusted person or a reliable source (book, website, phone line).
- “Talk with your teen” is easier said than done! If you find it hard to talk to your teen, try doing it in a different setting (for example, while doing an activity with them, while driving, etc.).
Resources and practical tools
Parenting a teen can be challenging, but the good news is: It is something you can learn!
Several CLSCs and community organizations (e.g., family centres) in the Montérégie region offer workshops on positive parenting practices. Find out more!
Latest updates : February 2020