Parenting a Preteen or Teen
Being the parent or guardian of a preteen or teen is not as scary as it sounds! Most of the time they are struggling to be independent and to fit in at school, at home, and with friends. Keep in mind that helping your preteen or teen to become an adult takes time, patience, and a commitment. There is no such thing as an instant adult!
There are two things to remember: preteens and teens need lots of love. They need a caring adult to help shape their moral compass and give them support during these difficult transitional years.
- Tips for Parents and Guardians
- Setting Limits and Boundaries
- Communicating with Your Preteen or Teen
Tips for Parents and Guardians
- Let your child know that you love him or her no matter what. Preteens and teens need a trusting and loving relationship with a parent or other adult to feel safe and secure.
- Talk to your preteen or teen – listen to his or her ideas and opinions, and do things together.
- Get to know your child's friends and learn what they do in school; it helps you understand your preteen or teen even better.
- Show you care by chaperoning a trip.
- Join a parent group or support group where you and other parents can discuss parenting issues.
- Attend all parent-teacher conferences at school.
- Go to your child's athletic events and school musicals.
- Answer your child's questions about health risks.
- Teach your child to respect himself or herself and others.
- Challenge your preteen to discover his or her own incredible potential.
- Show your preteen or teen that you are proud of his or her accomplishments, both large and small.
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Setting Limits and Boundaries
- Establish limits and boundaries such as: curfews, study hours, behavior at parties, and expectations for special occasions.
- Define the consequences of unacceptable behavior – make sure your preteen or teen understands the consequences and then stick to them.
- Recognize that some limits are negotiable and others are not.
- Guide your preteen or teen toward choices that will keep him or her safe.
- While preteens and teens may fight with parents about some decisions, they usually realize that the limits placed on them are a sign of love, rather than control.
- Monitor your child's behavior – what he or she says and does, where he or she goes and with whom, and when to expect him or her home.
- Redefine your limits of control over your child's life as he or she starts to think and act more mature. Otherwise you risk some major problems in your relationship.
- Monitor your own behavior – what you say, what you do, and what you believe. Your behavior will make a huge difference in the choices your preteen or teen makes.
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Communicating with Your Preteen or Teen
- Be honest and open with your preteen or teen when talking about your values, beliefs, and ideas. It may be wise to just say, "Here is what I think about...," – briefly explain your views, and then drop the subject.
- Help your preteen or teen to make responsible choices by talking about their options.
- Tell your preteen or teen if you are disappointed or upset with his or her behavior.
- Praise, hug, encourage, and say, "I love you."
- Express your expectations for his or her goals and accomplishments.
- Recognize that your child's life may be very different from your own adolescence.
- Your preteen or teen deserves guidance, high but realistic expectations for achievement, and a fair balance between rules and freedom.
Used by permission
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Reviewed By: Adolescent Interest Group
Last Reviewed: August 2013
Below are sources PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Caring for Your Adolescent. American Academy of Pediatrics. (1991). New York, NY: Bantam Books.
Parenting Your Teenager. Elkind, David. P (1994) . New York NY: Ballantine Books.
Wonderful Ways to Love a Teen. Berkeley, Ford (1996). Judy California: Conari Press.
Beyond the Big Talk: Every Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy preteens – From Middle School to High School and Beyond. Haffner, Debra W. (2001). New York, NY: New Market Press.
A Parent's Guide to the preteen Years: Raising Your 11- to 14-Year-Old in the Age of Chat Rooms and Navel Rings. Panzarine, Susan(2000). New York, NY.: Checkmark Books.
Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. Pipher, Mary. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.
Raising Preteens: A Synthesis of Research and a Foundation for Action. Simpson, A. Rae (2001). Boston, MASS: Center for Health Communications, Harvard School of Public Health.
Teenage Health Care. Slap, Gail; Jablow, Martha (1994). New York, NY: Pocket Books.
You and Your Adolescent: A Parent's Guide for Ages 10-20. Steinberg, L.; Levine, A (1997). Dunmore, PA: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.