Family at the mall

Your child has mood swings and off days, and can go from the loving and sweet kid you remember from a year ago to a brooding bundle of nerves in mere seconds. Does this sound familiar?

There’s plenty of advice out there about parenting rebellious middle school kids, but unfortunately, not all of them really work. But as long as your teen isn’t displaying destructive behaviors and isn’t really a danger to anyone or himself, trying the following tactics might help you navigate these crucial years with your teen as smoothly as possible.

You’re the one in charge

Regardless of how much your teen’s asserting his independence, make it known that you’re still in charge. Instead of always trying to be the best buddy, be his role model and a guide.

Find time to connect

In order to communicate well with your teen, you must find the time every single day to speak with each other. Use whatever time you have in the car while driving to and from his middle school in Salt Lake City or during dinner to really listen to what your teen has to say.

Define limits together

It’s your responsibility to set limits and define what’s abusive or unacceptable. Physical violence, being disrespectful, and cursing are obviously out of the question, and you can follow your own moral standards to define other matters. Define consequences for wrongdoings and enforce them whenever necessary.

Expect to be treated like an adult

If you’re talking to your teen the same way you talk to other adults, expect the same treatment. However, if he speaks to you disrespectfully or yells, reprimand him calmly and walk away.

Choose your battles wisely

If you find your teen doing something irritating, but not really harmful, you need to decide if the potential argument is worth it. For instance, if he goes to school in clothes that seem sloppy to you, yes, it might probably embarrass you, but it’s not really hurting him or anyone, right?

Keep track of your teen’s screen time

Keep tabs on what your teen is watching online or on the TV. Ideally, you should place the computer in a place where you can clearly see the screen. But make sure not to invade your teen’s privacy. Don’t look through your teen’s mobile phone or room if he hasn’t really given you any cause for concern.

Provide opportunities to show how responsible and mature he can be

Mother driving daughter to schoolFor instance, let him do some grocery shopping and schedule his dentist appointment on his own. Also, educate your teen early on about burning topics like peer pressure, sex and vices. You’ll know when he’s ready don’t worry. Be the person he can talk to without judgment, always be available when he needs to talk.

The teenage years are a challenging time for most, if not all, parents. But keep in mind that most teens will rebel or act out at some time during these years, and that this is a necessary stage that will help them grow into independent and mature adults later on.