It is natural for teens to become more interested in the world outside the sphere that comfortably contained them as children. They prioritise friendships over family, and test boundaries. As they try to spread their wings, they may engage in behaviour such as lying, sneaking around and hiding things. Such behaviour is — to a certain extent — normal during the teenage period of growth and discovery. It can be a challenging time for everyone, parents included, who may find that new strategies are required to help, guide and discipline their teens. For the typical teenage rebellion, here are some ideas on how to handle your child. (If your teen’s misbehaviour is serious or escalates significantly, however, it may be best to seek professional help.) Help with decision-making Teenage brains develop in a way that leaves them emotional and impulsive, and the region responsible for forward thinking and reasoning is last to mature. They will need you to be their moral compass and sounding board. Help them make decisions and explain why something may not be in their best interest. Be a non-judgmental source of advice and encourage your child to share with you, talking through options. The more open the lines of communication are, the more chance you’ll have of helping your teen see the reality of how their decisions may pan out. Natural consequences work best When possible, let natural consequences help your teen learn his or her lesson. If your teen keeps breaking his phone screen, give him a way to pay for it himself, living with the broken screen until he has earned enough to get it fixed. If she argues with you when you wake her in the morning, buy her an alarm clock and allow her to miss the bus and be late to school. Inform the school and ask for them to enforce a consequence for multiple late mornings. If a natural consequence is not available, determine one that is appropriate for the wrong doing. For example, missing curfew multiple times means your teen will have to give up going out with friends. Then, move the curfew earlier until your teen earns the original curfew back by being punctual several times in a row. Talk about why consequences must be endured. Help your teen cultivate a sense of ownership of their behavior. Remember, teens are eager to be independent — it is a powerful tool to help them learn responsibility for their choices. Stay calm, if humanly possible Take deep breaths, remind yourself that anger is not going to help anything. Yelling at teens can push them away. If necessary, leave the conversation in order to calm down, and come back when both of you are ready to talk. Try to to stay composed and demonstrate appropriate problem-solving behaviour. Teach your teen to reflect on what could have been done differently, and how it might have changed the outcome. Teens are at an age where they are beginning to make decisions for themselves and to take responsibility for their choices. Analysing epic blunders, while not always easy, is a valuable learning experience. Remember that this is all training for being an adult. Use it as a chance to impart wisdom and teach responsibility rather than just punish. It can be incredibly difficult, but the more you model calm conversation and problem solving, the more your teen will get out of these interactions. In the end you are trying to teach your teen to be a responsible, capable and happy adult. The best lesson you can leave them with is how to make their own decisions, to seek help when they need it, and that their actions have consequences whether they are positive or negative.