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Being a parent is full of fun and challenges. Each stage of childhood has unique characteristics. A parent experiences those first overwhelming feelings of love for their newborn, while having sleepless nights. They watch their toddler explore the world with excitement and curiosity. They shed a tear or two when their sweet child leaves for the first day of school. The pre-adolescent and teen years each have their own unique challenges. However, there are many differences between parenting children and teenagers. This article looks at five of them.

Young boy facing older boy

#1 Communication

Most children love to talk. They ask questions about everything. Teenagers, on the other hand, become highly uncommunicative. They will only talk when they can choose the topic of conversation, which is usually themselves. Teenagers are listening, though they may not seem to be, and you still have plenty of influence.

#2 What They Need and Want

As a parent of children, you are primarily concerned with providing food, clothing, and shelter. You also provide entertainment by purchasing toys. You are able to have the fun of shopping for clothing for your child, dressing them up in the latest styles and their favorite color.

This is not true when you have a teenager. Your teenager has very definite ideas about what is “in style.” “Toys” become much more expensive. In addition, you have the concerns of providing transportation – or buying them a car – and paying for their education.

#3 Areas of Their Lives You Need to Monitor

When your children are small, you have the responsibility of teaching them health and self-care. You teach them how to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and cross a busy street. However, when your child becomes a teenager, you need to monitor other areas of behavior:

  • With whom are they hanging out?
  • Are they doing their homework?
  • Are they engaged in any potentially dangerous activities?

#4 Their Relationships

When your children are little, you arrange play dates so they can learn how to socialize with other children. As they near those teen years, you hope they will decide to delay dating.

When they are young, you worry about possible bullying, but when they are teenagers, the potential for peer pressure to lead to some questionable decision making is a concern.

#5 Instilling Morals and Values to Guide Them

Whether your child is young or a teenager, instilling the right morals and values to guide them is an important responsibility. However, again there is a difference between parenting children and parenting teenagers.

Your young child needs to learn to share, be kind to others, and tell the truth. Your school-aged child needs to learn to get along with others and develop skills for learning. Your pre-teen and teen must be counseled not to engage in risky behavior, such as smoking, drinking, trying drugs, or texting while driving.

Remember, although there are differences between parenting children and parenting teenagers, continually loving and guiding our children through their lives can create responsible, caring, adults. Their ability to control impulses might change, but they won’t forget what they learned by talking to, and, more importantly, watching you.

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