14 tips for parents with teenagers from teen expert Louise Hayes

Monday, 25 February 2019
14 tips for parents with teenagers from teen expert Louise Hayes

Recently Inspiro organised a free event to help local parents and teens. A theatre full of parents came to hear Dr Hayes and get tips to understand their teens better.

One of the things that was clear for all 250 parents in attendance was that being a parent of teens isn't easy, and being a teen isn't easy either. Studies show that building a meaningful relationship and spending quality time with your child is essential for their development and lifetime happiness (and for your own too), but IPad's, iPhone's, computers, big screen TV's, social media and teen hormones can conspire to make this is a very difficult task. 

These 14 tips from global teen expert Louise Hayes will show you how to develop a meaningful relationship with your child, and how to help them succeed while living a fulfilling life.

Free Louise Hayes how to deal witih teenagers ebook

Teenagers Tip 1

They need you (even if they say they don't).

A strong relationship means being able to be together, it means being able to express their opinions even while disagreeing. As parents we need to validate their opinions and allow their strong feelings, even if we get upset - and show sympathy.

Sometimes they'll act like they don't like you, like they don't need you and even like they hate you. They don't, and it's at those time that they need you more than ever.

Teens need someone to listen

Teenagers Tip 2

Steal back time to be together. Practice noticing with your whole being

Teens report the highest rates of loneliness of any age group 

Loneliness can predict:

1. Heart disease
2. Obesity
3. Poor sleep quality
4. Impaired cognitive performance
5. Poor immune function
6. Mental health problems
7. Poor self control

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Teenagers Tip 3

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

40% of teens sleep fewer than 6 hours a night, less than 25% sleep eight hours, and only 7.5% sleep the recommended 9 -10 hours a night. Yes, your teens should be getting 9-10 hours a night. Some reasons they aren't getting that are; too much screen time - including phone, iPad, computer and TV, caffeine and sugar after 5 pm, bad habits and not making sleep a priority.

  • Remember that you are the parent
  • Screen time - power down at sundown or a minimum of 1 hour prior to going to bed
  • Your teens bedroom should be quiet and dark like a cave
  • Meals - avoid heavy and hard to digest meals late in the day
  • No sugar or caffeine after 5 pm
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Body clock - same nightly sleep and wake times
  • Set a 9-10 hour sleep goal

10 sleeping tips to help you get a good nights sleep-941948-edited

Teenagers Tip 4

The big 3 - take care of these 3 and you're giving your teen a really great platform. Depression is often caused by a lack of sleep.

1. Nutrition - Too much sugar or not enough food will leave yu
2. Sleep
3. Exercise

Teenagers Tip 5

Feelings are normal, feelings are OK:

  • Notice feelings
  • Both good and bad feelings are normal - they can't just be turned off
  • Allow feelings to happen
  • Respond to them only when needed
  • We get messages that our feelings are not normal or not OK to have; we get lessons to stop our feelings, control them, distract ourselves from them or even eat them.


Teenagers Tip 6

Breathing space. When they get home give them 3 minutes breathing space before asking questions. Most teenagers don't want to be asked any more than 2 questions at once. Make your 2 questions count! Don't ask yes / no questions. Don't pry too much.

knowing when to give your children space is a difficult skill to learn

Teenagers Tip 7

Their relationship with you is more important to their development than their relationship with their friends. Adolescence is a time of critical growth in biological, brain, cognitive and social functioning Teens need a solid relationship with parents that facilitates communication, and allows exploration but also provides fair rules and boundaries.

This does not mean absence of conflict.

Support from parents is more strongly associated with well-being and development than support from friends. Having friends does not adequately compensate for a lack of support from parents. Scroll below to see 7 thins to remember for your teens.

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7 important teenager tips to remember:

  • 1. Let them take small risks, they need them (and they're better than taking big risks). Teens must take risks of some kind in order to develop and learn.

  • 2. Learn which battles to fight - only fight the important battles.
  • 3. Implement the rules that really matter - don't sweat the small stuff.

  • 4. No more than 2 questions (so make sure they're good open ended questions). Give them space but make sure they know you're there for them.

  • 5. Remember, being a teen can be very lonely, even if it doesn't look that way. Social connections are VERY important (that includes your social connection)- encourage and foster them as much as you possible can.

  • 6. Teach your teens the principle of delayed gratification. Read about the marshmallow experiment here.

  • 7. Set a good example. Your children will often pick up your habits and become like you (even though they may say and think otherwise). Held build good habits (sleeping, eating and exercising) by leading by example.

That's a lot to remember and for most of us a lot to do. If it all seems too hard then start with point 3 and work on the other points after that.

Call us on 9028 0153.

Find out more about clinical psychologist Louise Hayes here.

Counselling for anxiety and stress

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