18 Parenting Mistakes That Are Turning Your Teens Against You

The teenage years are notorious for being challenging for both teens and their parents. It’s a period of rapid physical, emotional, and social maturity, and navigating this transition from childhood to adulthood can require appropriate parenting strategies. Here are 18 mistakes to avoid when raising a teen or risk pushing them away unintentionally.


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On the cusp of adult independence, teens crave autonomy and control over their own lives. While it may have worked when they were younger, micromanaging their every action and decision, from activities and schedules to friends and clothing choices, will make them resentful.

Set clear, reasonable boundaries, but allow them to make choices within those parameters.

Poor Communication

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Open and honest communication is essential for a healthy parent-teenager relationship. Better Health Channel recommends listening attentively or delaying a conversation until you can give it your full attention. Lectures and one-sided conversations won’t be effective with teenagers, so aim for open, two-way dialogue that is respectful of their perspective.

Dismissing Their Emotions

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Teenage hormones are a powerful thing, and teens often experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Try not to dismiss or belittle these feelings as mere “teenage angst” and instead find ways to validate them, or at least be empathetic, even when you don’t agree with their sentiment. Otherwise, your teen will feel ignored and misunderstood.

Making Comparisons

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It can be tempting to compare teenagers to siblings or peers who are (or were) ‘easier’ to handle. But such comparisons only fuel resentment and feelings of inadequacy in your teen. Every child develops at their own pace and has unique strengths and weaknesses, so focus on the issues you have, and don’t forget to celebrate them when appropriate.

Publicly Criticizing Them

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Teens are incredibly self-conscious, so being criticized or embarrassed in front of others (especially their friends or schoolmates) can be devastating to their self-esteem. If you have an issue with their behavior, address it privately in a respectful manner. Public humiliation will only damage their trust, fuel dislike, and cause them to distance themselves from you.

Not Respecting Their Privacy

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Many teenagers crave privacy as they develop their identity and mimic a more adult lifestyle. Very Well Family warns against snooping through their belongings, monitoring their social media activity, or constantly checking on them. Not only are these tactics likely to provide misinformation, but they’re also privacy violations that erode trust and open communication.

Not Taking Their Concerns Seriously

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Teens tend to be more insular and ‘closed off’ than younger children, so they may downplay even serious problems. Whether it’s issues with friendships, school, or social anxieties, take an interest in their lives and offer support when necessary, even if that just means listening and being sympathetic. Even seemingly trivial problems may feel very ‘real’ for your teen.

Yelling and Name-Calling

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This is never a great parenting strategy, but yelling and insulting your teen during disagreements will only escalate a bad situation. Avoid giving in to anger and frustration, and try to keep communication open and respectful. Teens often crave the respect that adults enjoy, so try to be calm and take time to formulate your responses without resorting to explosive outbursts.

Overly Strict Curfews

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Setting clear rules and boundaries is essential for your teen’s safety and well-being, but there also needs to be room for negotiation and compromise. Unreasonably early curfews or overly restrictive rules will only lead to rebellion. Explain boundaries to your teenager and establish fair, age-appropriate limits that allow them to demonstrate their maturity.

No Responsibilities

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Teenagers are adults in training, and being an adult means extra responsibilities. While they may gripe or moan about chores or commitments, teens also thrive on responsibility and crave the elevated status associated with independence. Give your teen age-appropriate responsibilities and give them a chance to prove themselves—you may be surprised!

Being Overly Protective

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While keeping your teenager safe is a natural concern and an important responsibility, don’t blow every perceivable threat out of proportion or restrict their freedom too much. Curious Neuron claims overprotectiveness can hinder a teen’s development and prevent them from learning valuable life lessons. Offer guidance and support, but allow them to make mistakes.

No Quality Time

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With busy schedules and an increasing desire to spend time with their own age group, spending quality time with your teen can be neglected. Just because they don’t seem as keen on parent/child activities doesn’t mean they don’t need it! They’re still children, after all, and time together is very important, so make sure you schedule some time for bonding and relaxation.

Dismissing Their Friends

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Friends are essential to teenagers, so avoid forbidding them from seeing certain ones or expressing a strong dislike for them. Failing to acknowledge the importance of a friendship or criticizing a friend can push your teenager away. Make an effort to get to know your teen’s friends and include them in your family’s life when possible.

Not Supporting Their Interests

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Your teen is becoming their own person and developing their passions, hobbies, and interests—which you may or may not share or even agree with. Regardless, try to take an interest in the music, sports, art, or video games your teenager enjoys. Avoid dismissing their aspirations or mocking their interests—this will only drive a wedge between you.

Forcing Them into Activities You Enjoyed

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This classic parenting mistake is all too common. Remember that your teen is not you, and they may not enjoy any of the activities you did at their age. Don’t pressure them to participate in activities you enjoy—it’s narrow-minded and restrictive and will make your teen feel unseen and misunderstood. Encourage them to pursue what makes them happy instead.

Setting a Bad Example

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HealthLink states that setting a healthy example for your teen is vital to helping them grow into emotionally stable, responsible, respectful, and honest adults. Like all children, teenagers are constantly observing and mimicking the behavior of adults. Don’t expect your teen to exhibit good behaviors or positive personality traits that you yourself aren’t capable of!

Holding Grudges

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Everyone makes mistakes, and teenagers are learning a lot about the adult world and their place in a functioning society. Holding grudges and constantly bringing up past mistakes is unproductive and prevents both of you from moving forward. Learn to forgive and forget, and focus on the issue at hand, rather than raking up the past.

Not Apologizing

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It’s okay to make mistakes, and that goes for parents too. Don’t be too proud to know when you’re wrong, and own up to it. If you overreacted, were too strict, misunderstood, or said something hurtful, be willing to apologize to your teenager in a sincere way. This teaches them to take responsibility for their own mistakes and that apologizing can be cathartic for everyone.

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