With the school year well underway and university applications (or potentially disappointments) it can be a stressful time for anyone with a teenager. So as parents how do we navigate this stress without losing our minds? One helpful tip is the ‘three Cs of parenting’. Consider the advantages of staying calm, caring, and consistent as a parent. Though at times this may sound easier said than done.
Try your best to remain calm
Remaining calm is a simple concept in theory. However, what I love about teenagers is also what makes them challenging to work with at times. They are impulsive, spontaneous and have a tendency to think everything is urgent. This sense of urgency can often rub off on those around them. Remember that most things are not an emergency and can wait to be addressed. You may also find your teenagers don’t always give you what you want or listen when asked.
However, if you let this impact your calm response you will be more reactive and emotional, starting a chain reaction. Staying calm in the face of turmoil allows enormous benefit. Take space, breathe and centre yourself as needed.
Always care and show loving limits
This may seem obvious. This isn’t just about loving our teens. We all care and love our children. I have never met a parent who said they didn’t love their child. The message here is how to set caring limits.
For example, how do we show care when disciplining? If your teen breaks curfew, you may be anxious; you may be very angry. How then do you show care? One suggestion is to set loving limits.
Parent response: I was worried when you didn’t come home. Your curfew is at 10 pm and it is 11:30 pm. We had agreed that you would be grounded for a week if this happened. I know this is hard for you AND this is what have decided as a family.
By using the word ‘and’ (instead of ‘but’) this acknowledges their feelings and allows the parent to communicate care and limits.
This is the key. Teens need consistency and to know what to expect. Though they might fight it, consistency creates a sense of emotional safety, an understanding of what is going to happen, and what is expected of each member of the family. Don’t fret, no one is perfect and perfect consistency is not needed.
However, if curfew is 10 one day and 11 the next day this creates confusion and room for behaviours to creep in. If curfew is 10 then it is 10. The same is true for all expectations in your household going to visits, friends, homework, chores, etc. The more consistent you are as a parent, the less headaches you will have down the road.
I support teens and families everyday in managing difficult emotions and stress. By using The Three Cs of Parenting you will be well on your way to success. These tips are a good foundation for a healthy home.
Lianna Tsangarides, LCSW has been working with youth and families since 2007.