Parenting adolescents: Here’s why it gets difficult

Thrive Psychology Clinic > Blog > Parenting adolescents: Here’s why it gets difficult

July 10, 2020 / By thadmin2

(5-Minute Read)


The adolescence period is a transition from being a child to a young adult. An adolescent undergoes many changes during this period – both physically and psychologically. Because of these changes, they tend to feel more anxious and disoriented. This period of transition includes the search for self-identity and the desire to make decisions on their own. Consequently, you might start to see changes in your teenager’s behaviour. Some behavioural changes include having greater mood swings, seeking new experiences, going against parental advice, and more. The reason why you may feel that parenting gets difficult with adolescents may be due to the frustrations that parenting methods that worked in the past are not working anymore during this transitional period, as your child may start to disagree with some of the rules that you have set. 

Here are some tips for parenting your teenager during this period, as well as how you can better get along with them and support them while they experience changes.


Prepare Yourself and Your Child Early

You have also once been through this period, so it is good to think back on the changes that you have experienced as an adolescent. Bring awareness to the signs that come along with this transitional period. For example, talk to your child about bodily changes and processes such as acne and menstruation, even before it occurs. Discuss the psychological changes that come with this transitional period. It might be awkward, but it is good to prepare them ahead of time so that they will not feel embarrassed when they experience it. The more prepared both you and your child are, the better both parties can deal with it when the time comes. Being open with your child right from the start will also help them better confide in you with the problems that they may face during this period. 



Be More of an Authoritative Parent

In the past, other parenting styles might have worked when your child was younger as they are less likely to have opinions on their own. However, as they reach the adolescence stage, you might have to change your parenting style to one that can better support your child. A research article on parenting styles and parent-adolescent relationships done by Bi et al (2018) has suggested that authoritative parenting results in better parent-adolescent cohesion, as well as a lesser number of conflicts, with lower intensity. During the adolescent period, your child will wish to be more independent and make decisions on their own. Thus, it will be good to grant them a healthy level of autonomy that they desire. Adolescents with authoritative parents also tend to better understand the role of parental authority, which therefore reduces any possible conflicts and increases cohesion between you and your child. 


Change Up Your Rules

During this period, your child will desire more freedom as they may have more things that they want to do. Thus, the rules you set have to be appropriate in order to make them feel less restricted. For example, expecting them to be home straight after school might not sit as well with them anymore. Instead of scolding them, you can try compromising by letting them stay out later but have them communicate responsibly about their schedule and when they are expected to be home. Share your parental perspective by explaining to them your worries about their safety. Show them that while you are granting them more autonomy, you trust that they compromise by being responsible.


Respect Their Privacy

When your child was younger, he/she might enjoy coming up to you after school to tell you about their day and being around you all the time. However, as they grow up, you will realise that there are some things that they do not wish to tell you, and there are times when they wish to be left alone in their rooms. Instead of probing them and thinking that they are intentionally hiding something from you, give them the personal space that they want, and trust that they will come to you if there are any problems. Make yourself available and keep an open mind when they do come to you with their worries.


Don’t Judge Them

Your child is not a carbon copy of you, and it is normal that they have different opinions and preferences from you when you were an adolescent. Instead of immediately objecting to their lifestyle choices, respect them as an individual and allow them to express themselves the way they want to, only stepping in during extreme cases or when their choice is possibly detrimental to themselves. What you would have done 20 years ago can most definitely be different from what your child chooses to do today, and it does not mean that your child is wrong. Showing them that you trust their decisions will help create a positive relationship.


Typically, adolescents wish to express their want for independence through behaviours. For example, it is common to see them wishing to stay out later than before, dressing up differently, or having new hobbies. However, it is important to differentiate between behaviours that are normal and behaviours that require intervention. Behaviours such as regular drinking, running away from home or engagement in law-breaking activities are warning signs that your child may need professional help. 


Here at Thrive Psychology, we offer various services that can target common problems found in today’s children and youth. Our goal is to get an accurate read on your child’s experiences so that we can put together a comprehensive treatment plan that targets their unique needs. If you would like to find out more about behavioural treatments, do contact us and we would be happy to assist you! 


Being more authoritative, granting them a healthy level of autonomy and personal space without unreasonable rules and judgement can help to build mutual respect and trust between you and your child during adolescence. Remember, these changes are normal and essential in developing your child into an adult. You do not have to worry too much about it as long as the behaviours do not seem problematic. As they grow out of this period, the highs and lows will reduce as they develop a stable sense of self. In future, when you look back on it with your child, you will probably share a laugh with them! 



Bi, X., Yang, Y., Li, H., Wang, M., Zhang, W., & Deater-Deckard, K. (2018). Parenting styles and parent–adolescent relationships: The mediating roles of behavioral autonomy and parental authority. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 2187.