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Parenting a teenager can have its ups and downs. At times, you might feel more distant than ever from them, and you may be arguing more often too. But by making small changes and being there for them, you can make a difference to how well you get on.

In this short video, father and daughter Ian and Poppy share their tips for navigating the teen years together.

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Tips for preparing for the teen years

​​Tip #1: Be approachable

A big part of being approachable is being non-judgmental – if your teen sees you being critical about others and judging them for their decisions, they’ll assume you’ll be critical of them too and this may stop them confiding in you. So try and be empathetic and understanding in day to day life (not always easy we know!).

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Tip #2: Try not to criticise

Their way of doing things may be different to yours, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Sometimes you might even have to let them make a mistake now and then! Try not to criticise them too much – focus on the positive things they do instead, and help them develop problem solving skills so they can learn from any mistakes.

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Tip #3: Set clear boundaries

Just like younger children, teenagers need boundaries. Some things are never acceptable, and they should know what these boundaries are. But remember to be clear and as consistent as you can about these rules. Be prepared to discuss why these rules are in place, and to compromise if they make a convincing case. The better they understand the rules, the more likely they are to follow them.

Our page on setting rules and consequences with your teen has more advice.

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Tip #4: Pick your battles

If you feel you're fighting more than usual then it may be time to pick your battles. Is it worth falling out over a messy bedroom? Be clear on the things that matter, like getting school work done and staying safe and maybe let the less important things slide.

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Tip #5: Let them know they're doing a good job

Sometimes you might feel that all you do is moan at them. So remember to praise them as well and let them know you’re proud of them. And don’t just praise the big things – notice the little day-to-day wins too, like when they’re trying hard, being kind, or helping out. For example, you could say, ‘I really like it when you have a laugh with your sister’ or ‘It was really kind of you to send your gran a text.’

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Tip #6: Give them space

Everyone needs time to themselves every so often, and teenagers are no exception. If they want to be alone for a bit, let them. Try to give them space to catch up with friends in person or online.

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Tip #7: Be patient

Mood swings are normal for teenagers. Their feelings can change quickly. If they’re pushing you away just now, don’t let it get to you. It won’t last forever. The best thing you can do is support them through the ups and downs and be there if things go wrong. 

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Tip #8: Don’t take it personally

Teenagers can be really hurtful at times, particularly when they’re angry or frustrated. Remember not to take it personally. It might not be nice, but chances are they’re upset about something else and are just taking it out on you.

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Tip #9: Tell them you love them, no matter what

They might get embarrassed, and you don’t have to do it in front of their pals, but just because they are getting bigger doesn’t mean you can’t tell them you love them. It might not look like they appreciate it, but knowing you love them just the way they are gives them the solid foundations they need to go out into the world. 

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