The only thing more difficult than being a teenager is parenting one. Dealing with the fact that your previously sweet and snuggable child has now turned into a moody adolescent is tough; especially when the walking hormone inhabiting your home has developed an attitude bigger than Justin Bieber.
Attempting to make sense of their own identity – from whacky hairstyles to underage drinking – teens often leave parents feeling anxious and riddled with worry; “Teens need to feel safe and secure while trying to figure out this confusing stage of their lives,” says High School Principal at Riverside College, Dave Swart. “Positive discipline plays a very important part here – remember, you are not your child’s friend, first and foremost, they are looking to you for guidance and direction.”
With changes happening in all shapes and forms, your teen’s actions can be unpredictable and often out of character. Discipline, both at school and home, can be challenging. Swart, who has a background in youth counseling, offers some useful tips to help positively discipline your teen.
- Set ground rules together: This makes boundaries clear and if rules are broken, your teen is more likely to accept responsibility for his/her actions and the consequences that follow.
- Communicate: Listen to and respect your teen – this will encourage openness and honesty, making you more approachable when problems occur.
- Build a positive relationship: Show interest in the things your teen enjoys – use this as a way to connect with each other.
- Agree on the consequences: If rules are broken, keep calm and listen to what your teen has to say. Figure out the repercussions together, ensure these are manageable and appropriate.
- Take two: It is important to give your teen a second chance to try again after making a mistake – this will give them the opportunity to learn from their mistake and make the right choice next time.
Expert background: Dave Swart has been the principal of Riverside College, which is based in Cape Town’s Burgundy Estate, since 2014. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology and a postgraduate certificate in education. Swart is passionate about social work, youth counselling and life coaching, he has completed a number of Life Line courses and runs a counselling service called Introspect Life Coaching.