How To Survive Teenagers

Teenager. If you're the parent of one, chances are you can't even read this word without experiencing a twitch of exasperation. Gone are the days when you could pull your son up onto your lap and talk over why it's wrong to put an empty carton of milk back in the fridge. You're not even allowed to touch your son anymore. All those parenting skills you've spent so many years honing have just flown right out the window. It's enough to make you want to move back in with your parents.

Listen to one mom: "When I come home to find my son's boots in the middle of the living room, his backpack and jacket on the dining room table, his muddy lacrosse gear in a heap by the backdoor and evidence of snacking, my immediate response goes something like, '!@#$%^&!.' It's a big challenge to find new ways to respond to old issues--like Pavlov's dogs, we immediately start salivating when the bell is rung." How can you break through the frustration to start interacting with your teen in a constructive way?

A group of Parent Soup parents of teens put their heads together and decided to try a little experiment: For one week, they would swear off nagging, lecturing and fuming. Instead, in each run-in with their teen, they would provide only positive reinforcement. It all started with a post on the Parents of Teens Message Boards, when Lorraine from California suggested that since so many parents seemed to be struggling with the same issues, "maybe they're normal adolescent behaviors? Maybe if we completely stop mentioning anything negative, and only say complimentary, positive things to them, they will start responding totally differently to us, and the problem will be solved!" And so the experiment began.

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