How to Make the Teen Years Easier to Handle

Q: My 14-year-old daughter is making me pull my hair out. Any advice on how to make the teen years easier to handle?

A: The teenage years are exciting and at the same time challenging for both the individual and the parent. Teens are actively trying to identify their level of independence so it is important to allow them to make some decisions.

Teens can and should be in charge of their time management. Have them take over when they plan on doing homework, preparing for exams, and other school activities. Tell your daughter if she shows good decision-making in that area, there will be opportunities to have more freedom in other areas. If she can’t handle the responsibility of figuring out when to get her schoolwork done, then you’ll have to take a more active role in the decision process. Growing up is a journey of building trust while also allowing the teen to make a few mistakes along the way.

There are some areas that no matter what your daughter thinks, you are still the boss. Your daughter is legally your responsibility until she turns 18. You should have open discussions about health and safety and what is negotiable (when she goes to bed) and what’s not (no drinking alcohol.) Be prepared to explain to her your decisions and the reasoning behind them. For example, you can explain that drinking alcohol is against the law for someone under the age of 21 and you’re worried if she does drink that she’ll make poor decisions or be placed in a bad situation. If you give reasons, it will come off much better than just “don’t do it.”

In order for your teen to respect you as a loving responsible parent, you must show them respect. Your positive words and actions can help build the necessary confidence your teen needs to develop into an amazing adult.

By Wendy Barton, MD, a pediatrician with ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Appleton.