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How to Encourage Positive Behavior in Teenagers

Updated: May 11, 2022

Teens are complicated. Let’s not talk about those early twenty-something year olds (tweens). They're moody, have impulsive tendencies, and constantly search for meaning. Many are also notorious for their lousy listening habits, which is just one of the many reasons why effective communication is so difficult. They test you. You have to restrain yourself from using “historic” methods. You are not alone.

Everyone can agree that parenting is one of the most challenging jobs. There's no textbook or manual out there to make things easier; however, we can shift our approach to a more positive one to result in more positive behavior.

Do you want to know how to encourage positive behavior?

Try these techniques:

  • Bring the family closer by spending quality time together. There's no better way to promote positive behavior than to tear down the barriers between family members, especially when it comes to communication.

  • This may take strategic planning especially if your family dynamics are strained, but it will be worth it in the end. When everyone is more comfortable in each other's presence, teens will naturally want to be around them, and they will cultivate a positive attitude as a result.

  • What can you do? Take the family out to dinners. Organize an outing for the family. Get creative by playing board games together. Schedule alone time with your teen. DO things to show you care. Make participation non-negotiable.

  • Persuade your teenager to find some form of employment. A lifeguard job or helping a neighbor out with babysitting, for example, can teach your teenager to be responsible. They may see the value of life and cherish the experience.

  • Whatever job they pick, please encourage them to ask friends or their parents for help to improve. Teens can learn a lot from service industry jobs. For example, they can learn the value of customer service, hard work, and good conduct.

  • These lessons can help them deal with daily tasks and relationships in the future. Check your city or state site for Summer Youth opportunities. Click here for the NYC Summer Youth application. Deadline April 22, 2022.

  • Listen. Teens often feel that their parents aren't listening to them, and they're constantly trying to prove a point. Why not change this?

  • Make it a point to listen and be interested in what they say. Be open to their way of thinking even if it is different from yours. Use discernment of course, but they must practice developing their own way of thinking. This action may inspire their appetite for communication, leading them to share more information about their lives.

  • Enthusiasm is contagious. You’ll see the common ground you share with your teen's interests, and your conversations will open up from there.

  • Take your teen seriously. Teens are known for their independent thinking. Some teens can also be willful at times. However, this does not mean that you treat them differently or ignore them whenever they have an opinion.

  • Despite their "difficult" behaviors and antics, give them your undivided attention whenever they have something serious to say. Remember that the things they say and do are symptoms of the issues they're facing at the moment. Try your best to be non-judgmental. Don’t tell them they are stupid for thinking that way. Try to understand what they are saying. Give them value.

  • You may not have all the answers, but you can certainly encourage them to find solutions independently.

  • Take time to have fun together. Parents who build fun activities into the day keep their teenagers and themselves happy. Joining a club or an extracurricular activity is a great way to add fun to your parenting.

  • Team sports and activities that require social interaction make for a good time, mainly because teens can get to know other kids in the neighborhood. In today’s world, they can get to know people virtually.

  • We have so many things that can cause worry. But when you look back years from today, you won't remember the hard times as much as the fun memories we created with the people we love.

Each year, the world becomes more complicated and challenging for kids to navigate. With the heaviness of the pandemic there is an added layer of hardships we all have had to manage. For youth, it has been even more complicated. They need the connection. They want the connection. Trust me, it's worth every minute of your time trying to understand them.

Remember to practice a healthy lifestyle. When either you or your teen gets less sleep each night or follows a poor diet, it increases mood swings and negative attitudes. Highly levels of stress transfer into the environment. Take care of yourself, so that you can be useful for all. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Everyone is unique, so parenting styles have to be adjusted to fit each children's needs. Guiding them towards positive behaviors is a continuous process that may take time. But it can be gratifying when you see the results!

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