How to stay calm when parenting teenagers

When there is so much potential for stress regarding your adolescent child, remaining calm can feel like an impossible dream. Every parent feels stressed at times – it comes with the job – but there are ways to navigate this parenting stage, meaning you can take the ups and downs in your stride.


By harnessing some patience, optimism, and a willingness to let go of just a little control, you'll be better able to be the parent your kid needs.

7 tips for staying calm as a parent

Here are some key points for you to keep in mind.

1. Remember, your teen's brain and body are under construction

Please don't underestimate the profound changes your child is making developmentally, such as mood swings, boundary-pushing and risk-taking, each resulting from their brain and body growth. Try not to take this behaviour personally either, this phase won't last forever. It can be helpful to learn more about adolescent development and how it impacts their behaviour. After all, knowledge is power! There are books, podcasts, and web pages – do your research, or talk to someone who is an expert in supporting parents of adolescents. 

2. Don't jump to 'fix it' mode

Your child needs you to listen to them; they aren't necessarily wanting you to resolve or find solutions; in fact, they're usually not. You are letting them know you're there for them, even when they are unsure of what they need. Ask them if they want you to simply listen, or to listen and help them work out their next step. Working collaboratively is much more effective in helping them find solutions and strategies for the hard stuff. Listen to them actively: don't interrupt, dismiss or judge what they're saying, even if it seems trivial or out of perspective. If they feel they can talk to you, they trust you can handle the hard stuff.

3. Go with the flow

The days of dictating what they do and them complying are over – that breeds resentment and is more likely to result in rebellion. It's much easier to go along with them and see your relationship becoming more of a partnership. As your teen grows and changes, you need to be flexible, willing to compromise, change and adapt with them. It's much easier to ride the waves together than try to hold back the tide yourself.  

4. Try to avoid escalating the situation

Understandably, you will sometimes react emotionally to your teen's outbursts. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and say or do something we might regret later. Yes, they will make you angry and frustrated; it's what they're supposed to do at this stage! They need to push away to find their own feet and independence.

If you can take a step back, keep calm and stay composed, you're much more likely to be able to handle the situation constructively. Understanding their pushback as a regular part of their development can help you keep perspective. 

5. Get to know what pushes your buttons

This means you'll be more prepared to respond than to immediately fly off the handle. Is it the eye roll? The monosyllabic grunt to a friendly enquiry as to how their day went, or the constant backtalk? When this happens, take a breath. Don't take it personally, but remove yourself from the situation for a moment if needed. 

6. Take care of yourself

Do the things and be with the people who make you feel good. When you are feeling well and happy, the people who matter to you are much more likely to feel happy, too. If you aren't taking care of yourself – getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising – it will be harder to take care of your teen. It helps keep resentment at bay and puts you in a better place to be there for your kids when they need you. It also shows them the importance of looking after themselves.

7. Try to maintain your sense of humour

Focus on the light side of raising teens – you don't need to react to every annoying little thing they do (even though they don't let you get away with anything they find remotely irritating). Use humour to connect; perspective and seeing the funny side can lighten tense situations. They are still kids and still learning. Laughing at ourselves and the situation can help diffuse tension and make the whole experience easier. And if you can't find the funny side, that's ok too – chalk it up to a bad day, let it go and move on.

Staying calm is the best way to show your teenager how they can manage stress and tricky situations. Children learn best by seeing the behaviour you want from them in action. That also goes for making mistakes. You don't expect them to be flawless, so acknowledge that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. By admitting mistakes, you can forgive and move on, plus you have an excellent opportunity to grow and learn – what a great gift to show your kid!

Remember that you're not alone and that some challenges with teens are typical. Parenting can be tricky, and having someone to talk to can make a significant difference; please don't feel like you have to navigate this time on your own.

If you struggle to keep your cool when you're with your teen or tween child or simply want to have someone to talk through the experiences (the ups and the downs) you can get in touch with me via my Counselling Directory profile. Together, we can work to develop strategies for staying calm and communicating effectively with your teen.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People constantly rush, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted. I specialise in supporting parents and carers as they navigate their child's tween and teenage years. Contact me for an introductory chat by phone.

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