There is a reason why parents refer to the teenage years as the “terrible teens”. This phase of your kids life involves raging hormones, crazy curiosity, impulsivity and of course, obsession with technology. Steering your teen through these years can be tricky – you must give them independence but you still need to know that they are safe. Here are 5 Ways to Help You Navigate the Terrible Teens.
As soon as your kid hits thirteen, it is as if they feel liberated to have finally grown out of the clutches of their parents. But what they don’t understand, is that this is exactly the time when their parents are most cautious and concerned about what their children are really up to.
It’s important to set a few ground rules early on and stick to them. Also, surprising as this may seem, technology can help you guide your child through their teenage years. Here are some ways to navigate these worrisome years:
#1. Company Matters
The people your teenager hangs out with definitely matter.
As a parent you need to understand that the friends your teen makes in this period of tlife will be a big influence. Your child is in a very critical stage of their life where their personality is extremely impressionable and very vulnerable. Therefore, the people that he/she hangs out will most definitely have an important role to play in determining who your kid as an adult turns out to be.
- Keep an eye on who your teen is in close contact with, by monitoring their contact lists over social media and other telecommunication modes – this can easily be done via monitoring applications found in the market, like TheOneSpy parental control app.
- Encourage open discussions about their day and friends. Dinner time is a good opportunity for this. Sharing your stories about the day as a family will help you learn who they hung out with that day, and what they did. For this to work, be sure to share your stories too.
#2. Social Media Regulations
Once your teen hits thirteen, he/she can legally open social media accounts. However, leaving your kid to explore these sites unmonitored is not a good idea. Not only is social media a hub for criminal activity but can also lead to online addiction, cyberbullying, and potential for visits to unsavoury websites.
You should have a clear conversation with your teen about the do’s and dont’s regarding social media, advising your teen that their social media accounts can be monitored at anytime by you. Make sure you know their passwords so you can check their accounts.
You may find it easier to use monitoring applications that extract all the relevant information and stores it on an online cloud, which you can then go through at your convenience.
Whichever method you choose, do be sure to check these accounts regularly. Here’s a parent’s guide to social media sites popular with kids.
#3. Limited Gadget Usage
Aim to restrict your teen’s gadget and online usage to common places in the house. Install a family PC in the living room, or limit the laptop to the kitchen counter so that you can simply take a peek at the screen as you pass by.
Set time limits on gadget use. Monitoring software can allow parents to set timers on specific applications on a gadget, which will initially give out a warning and then eventually shut down, and can only be opened up again by the parent.
And it’s not just applications that you should worry about – you should monitor their internet activity and ensure they are not accessing inappropriate sites for their age. There are software applications available that allow you to place filters and block specific sites from opening up.
#4. Open Communication
Establish ground rules before you ever give you teenager a phone. Clearly communicate to the teenager that the sole purpose of allowing them smart phones, is that you can call and text them to know their whereabouts, and vice versa.
Let them know that they should always respond to any call or text that you send them within minutes of receiving it. Apart from being just good manners, it helps establish trust.
And this works the other way too – if your teen is ringing you, ensure you answer/return their call as soon as possible. This will not only enhance your relationship with your teen but also indicate to them that no matter what happens they can always count on their parents for anything. You want to be your teen’s “first plan” and not “backup plan”.
If in doubt, software will let you monitor text receipt, but it’s better to try and establish the trust instead.
#5. Whereabouts Matter
Your teenager will want to hang out with his/her friends and that means unsupervised outings. Scary and all as this may initially seem to you, it’s important to let them go.
Tell your teen that they must let you know their whereabouts at all times, emphasising that this is only for their own safety. A simple text from them should suffice in most instances.
If you prefer further peace of mind, there are monitoring applications available that send you clear notifications indicating their whereabouts. You can also set specific parameters which if breached will send you a notification and you can call to check up on your kid.
Parenting a teenager may not be easy but with adequate rules and regulations, and a bit of help from technology, you can ensure that as they are learning about the hard realities of life, they are safe and secure. Let them know that you are always there for them no matter what, and that they can confide in you at anytime.
Over to you! Do you have any tips for navigating the teen years? Let us know in the comments below.