The Teenage Years

When kids are younger, they need parents to be encouraging, affectionate, and accepting while simultaneously protective, boundary-setting, and rule-making. However, beginning at some point between age 11 and age 13, most teenagers need their parents to shift their parenting style. Upon the start of adolescence, parents have a short window of time (about six years) during which children need as much practice as possible doing the following:

  • Exercising opportunities

  • Making mistakes as well as having successes

  • Addressing mistakes and handling successes in a way that benefits their character

  • Learning from their mistakes knowing all is not lost

  • Realizing that when they make wrong choices, they’re still worthy and loved by their parents

  • Developing a healthy fear of well-thought-out risks 

  • Experiencing the consequences of their mistakes while not feeling that they have lost their parents' love and loyalty

In the event that your teenager makes a poor choice, never react by calling them names, making negative judgments, or diminishing them as a person. On the contrary, this is the time to act surprised, reinforce to them that that was not like them, and remind them that they normally make good choices. It is necessary for parents to help teens address problems while still allowing them to let go of these mistakes once addressed. Teach them that, rather than dwelling on errors and regrets, it is best to learn from mistakes and move on to positive, beneficial choices.  

Diana Kierein, LICSW

Watertown, MA 02472

DKFamilies@gmail.com ● 617-467-4611 office ● 509-362-9656 fax

© 2020 Strength-Based Counseling