How to Deal With your Teenager

As your kids go into their teen years, it's obvious that things are going to change. Here are some practical steps for parents on how to deal with your teen.

1. Stop treating them with suspicion: Teenagers deal with fear as a constant companion. Fear of the other kids, fear of fitting in, fear of their teachers, fear of being mocked or ridiculed, they don't need their parents adding to it. When they come home, their home should be their sanctuary away from these fears. A place where they feel safe and protected, where they find love and acceptance. Unconditional love and acceptance is the greatest gift you can give them. This will not only boost their confidence to face another day, but will also steer your relationship with them in a positive direction.

2.Develop empathy: Remember what it was like when you were a teenager, teenagers are looking for someone to understand what they're going through. We all need understanding, but your teenager needs it a lot more than you can possibly imagine and he/she needs it to come from you. It's often been said that people need others just to listen. They generally don't need you to fix their problems for them (they'll figure that out for themselves), but rather they need someone who'll listen and empathize with them. This is what your teen needs from you. And if you don't give this to them, believe me, they'll find someone who will.

3.Stop fighting with them: Teenagers often feel they need to prove themselves. They have to prove themselves with their peers, their teachers and they automatically feel they have to prove themselves with you too. Don't let it upset you and refuse to fight with themLet them know you love them too much to fight with them over petty stuff. If you can refuse to take the bait every time they throw out their hook, you'll save yourself and them from having to go through a lot of arguing about things that are irrelevant.

4.Establish boundaries and stick to them: Give your teen choices within limits. This gives them the feeling they're in control of their lives. "Are you going to do your homework first or your chores?" "What time will you be home?" It gives them a certain amount of confidence in being able to decide for themselves.

5.Honor and respect your teen: Treat your child with honor and respect at all times. Constantly screaming at a child will damage their emotions and cause them to be insecure as adults. Respect their opinions and ask for them. When it's just the two of you riding in the car, turn the radio to their favorite station. If they like sports, go out of your way to get them involved and go to their games. If they win any awards, make a big deal out of it and take the whole family out to dinner in their honor. These are easy, fun things you can do for your teen that will cement a life-long healthy relationship between the two of you.

6.Open your home to their friends: Your teens are looking for a place to hang out. Be a    good sport about it. Have some healthy snacks around for them, let them play their music. You'll be surprised how many of their friends might need a listening ear.