Parenting teens

5min read

Parenting teenagers can be challenging, worrying and overwhelming at times, as they push for new independence and try to broaden their horizons. Teenagers can also feel a lot of pressure too and need to know they have their parents love and support to help to guide them through these exciting but often difficult years.

Key Points:

  • Teens respond well to lots of praise, love and affection. They still need their parents around to offer support and guidance
  • Give teens some privacy and space and don't take it personally if they prefer not to talk to you
  • Setting some agreed boundaries makes it clear that they're being looked after and they can often help them to feel safe and secure
  • Focus on your teen’s positive qualities and try to remember and acknowledge these.

Understanding teens

Firstly, they are at a difficult age when they're no longer seen either as children or as adults. Secondly, their hormones are racing, they're under pressure from friends and the media to keep up, and their schoolwork is more important now than ever. These are just some of the issues that lead to the mood swings and emotional outbursts that we commonly associate with teenagers, and this can be worth remembering when handling problems and difficult situations with your teen.

Teens need love

All children thrive from love, security and a strong foundation no matter what age they are. Even if they have a little attitude or act like they don't need you, they probably do. Teens respond really well to lots of praise, love and affection. They still need their parents around to offer support, guidance and structure to help them to feel secure.

Focusing on the positives

It’s helpful to try to focus on the positive qualities you see in your teenager, rather than seeing the negatives. Make an effort to notice these, and when things go well, let them know. Take an interest in what they’re doing and talk to them about their interests. This can really help to boost their confidence and self-esteem. 

Teenagers need reassurance

Some teenagers can feel overwhelmed and scared by the feelings they’re experiencing and the new responsibilities they have to take on as they grow. They need a lot of reassurance and time from you so that they feel heard and understood. Being there for them will help to give them the strength to cope and the ability to open up about their worries.

Teenagers need privacy

They’re often worried about their looks, their bodies, and the strange feelings and thoughts they are experiencing. Whether it's lack of self-confidence or just a curiosity about the way their bodies are developing, they need time to sort out things for themselves. Give them time and space and try not to take it personally if they prefer not to talk to you.

Teenagers need boundaries

They may kick up a fuss about being old enough to look after themselves, but the truth is that teenagers don't always make the right choices and they know this as well as you do. Setting clear and consistent boundaries which you talk through with them can make them feel safe and secure. Be prepared to discuss your reasoning and try to be open to their views and having to compromise sometimes. Read more about boundaries.

Listening to your teen

Sometimes they think you're not giving them a chance to make their case. If you want teenagers to listen to you, try to make the effort to listen as well. Let it be in their time and at their pace. Show them that their ideas and opinions matter, even if you disagree with them. Every now and then, try to negotiate something that's fair to you both and then let them take responsibility for their own decisions. Read more about communicating with your teen.

Further resources

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. 

Other organisations that can help

If you feel your teen may benefit from talking to someone about how they’re feeling, they can get emotional support and advice from The Mix.

Your teen may find it helpful to visit the Childline website.

The Teenage Helpline has trained mentors who your teen can talk to about any issues that they may have.