There’s no doubt that parenting a teenager is tough. And there’s no need to be too hard on yourself because perfect parents don’t exist. However, effective parents do exist, and knowing what not to say to a teenager can be extremely helpful sometimes (not only for you but also for your child).
You need to realize that teenage is a particularly tumultuous time in your child’s life — their hormones are raging, self-esteem ebbing, and confusion soaring. In such times, it’s important that you remain gentle with your child, just the way you expected your parents to be back when you were a teenager.
So, here are the top 3 things we hear parents say to their teenagers when they should not. However, a more comprehensive list of such things can be found with a psychologist, so if you’re a new parent who’s completely clueless about raising kids, professional help is your best bet.
“Is that a tattoo?!”
… or any negative comment about your child’s physical appearance.Teenage is all about experimentation — how your child looks right now has nothing to do with how they’ll look 20 years down the line. You have to allow your child to experiment and discover their true style and personality.
And criticizing their looks not only disrupts the process of their development and maturation, but it also depletes the confidence of a child with an already low self-esteem.
Criticizing your child’s appearance can be even more harmful if your child is dealing with obesity, which is very common in teenagers these days. Your child will stop trusting you (and maybe start disrespecting you) and get banished to the deepest pits of anxiety and self-hatred.
Approaching obesity sensitively and in the right way can do wonders for your child’s health and getting professional advice on how to do it might be a good idea.
You should also avoid criticizing the physical appearances of your child’s friends. Because while you might not like them, your child feels strongly attached to his friend, and as a parent, your goal should be to bring in your child’s circle instead of pushing them away.
Because remember, while friends do have a significant impact on one’s development and personality, a wide variety of friends will broaden your child’s worldview and teach her to spot the wrong ones early on.
“You’ve wasted the entire morning sleeping!”
This one’s our favorite because it’s so common and simply stems out of a lack of awareness. Your child is not sleeping more just to annoy you — there’s a scientific reason behind this behavior.
During the hormonal chaos of adolescence, both waking and sleeping times shift later. Not only that, but the average sleep duration required for optimal functioning increases to about 9 and a half hours. This means that it’s normal for your child to go to bed late at night and stay in bed longer in the morning.
Screaming at your teenagers and yanking them out of the bed when they’re trying to sleep will not only give them a terrible start to the day but also increase the toxicity and negativity between you and your children. Plus, they won’t be able to function as well as they would’ve had you allowed them to sleep adequately.
One way to spend more time with your children during their teenage years is to adopt teenage sleeping patterns during the weekends. Stay up late to enjoy more time with them and “waste the entire morning sleeping” to catch up on the missed sleep.
“If you keep this up, you’re not getting XYZ.”
Or “If you keep doing this, you’re getting grounded”.
This is never a good thing to say for multiple reasons. First, it’s an empty threat and doesn’t mean anything. You haven’t attached a consequence to a clear behavior, which is why it’s not very effective.
Secondly, all threats do is escalate conflict, which does little to help your main goal of correcting your child’s behavior.
And finally, angry threats show your child that you’re losing temper. Now, losing temper is a perfectly normal (and human) thing but the way you react when getting angry can teach your child a valuable lesson. If you start screaming and making threats, this is what your child will learn. If, however, you display a calm, rational behavior and work on solving the problem at hand, you can expect similar behavior from your child as they grow up!