Switching from child parenting to teen parenting

Cynthia Whitham, Associate Director of UCLA's Parenting & Children's Friendship Program, shares advice for parents on how to make the transition from parenting kids to parenting teens
Parenting Tips | Switching From Child To Teen Parenting
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Switching from child parenting to teen parenting

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Well when a child turns 12, parents have to switch their parenting style. Before 12, I think parents should be benign monarchs. They should have rules, maybe some consequences. Firm, fair. The prince and the princesses, they do quite well than you. But you still need to be the king and queen. But at 12 1/2, you'll be in trouble if you stay with a monarchy. There will be a coup d'etat. Heads will roll - most likely yours. You've got to change. Why? Because teenagers don't see themselves as kids. They see themselves as adults. And they are slowly emerging adults. But they're no longer going to respond well to the kinds of ways you talked to them when they were kids. So I recommend parents talk to their kids as they would another adult. You can think of it as a foreign exchange student or a colleague or Aunt Bertha. And when they do, they should model taking them seriously. They should model appreciating their point of view as best they can. They should model concern for the teen's time and interests. And if they do, not only will they wind up probably with a little more cooperation but they will also find their teens treating them with more respect and consideration as well.

Cynthia Whitham, Associate Director of UCLA's Parenting & Children's Friendship Program, shares advice for parents on how to make the transition from parenting kids to parenting teens

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Cynthia G. Whitham, LCSW

Director, UCLA Parenting & Children’s Friendship Program

Cynthia G. Whitham, LCSW, Director of the UCLA Parenting and Children’s Friendship Program, has been training parents for over 30 years. She is the author of two books, Win the Whining War & Other Skirmishes: A family peace plan, and The Answer is NO: Saying it & sticking to it, which have been translated into nine languages. In addition to her UCLA group classes, Ms. Whitham has a private practice on the east and west sides of Los Angeles. In 2000, she spent a month training clinicians at the National Institute of Mental Health of Japan. A lively speaker, Ms. Whitham does presentations and trainings for schools and organizations. Ms. Whitham raised two happy, healthy, and (relatively) well-behaved children (she thinks that may be the best credential of all). Daughter Miranda McLeod is a fiction author and is in a PhD program at Rutgers University. With sadness, Cynthia tells us that her son Kyle died in 2007, within months of graduating from San Francisco State University.

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