A Compassionate Approach to Teen Mistakes - 5 Tips for Support

Mar 04, 2024

Have you ever felt parenting a teen is like a day in the life of Groundhog day?  You see the same mistakes, you say the same things and it can feel annoying that they don't "know better by now". 

I was just noticing myself feeling like this the other day when I had to ask my teen to clean up his dishes from his desk again!!

I'm right in there with ya.

But here's a thought: “What if we approached our teens' mistakes with the same patience and understanding as we do with our little ones?”

(The common ground)

Believe it or not, but there are more similarities between parenting toddlers and parenting teens than you might think.

Mistakes are part of the process for both age groups.

Remember when your teen was little? They were mastering new skills, testing boundaries, and making mistakes all day long.  And for the most part you probably pretty patient because you expected it. Well, guess what, they're still going to do those things, but instead of spilled juice and alphabet mishaps, it's now forgotten laundry, messy kitchens and sibling squabbles.

Imagine this: Your teen forgets to put their laundry in the hamper... again. Or perhaps they engage in a heated argument with their siblings over something trivial. 

Sound familiar? These are the moments when it's crucial to remember that just like when they were learning to read or potty train, your teen is still figuring things out and the way they figure it out, is by missing the mark again and again and again.  Not that you don't address it, but that you address it with understanding and curiosity.


Now, how can you offer the same grace and understanding to your teen as you did when they were younger? 

Here are 5 simple tips to help you navigate this journey together:

  • Mistakes are Okay: Remember when your little one would spill their drink or say a word wrong? You didn't get mad; you helped them try again. It's the same with teens. Whether they forget chores or yell at a sibling, it's all part of growing up. Instead of responding from anger, pause, take a deep breath and get curious and offer another option if that makes sense.

  • Keep it Real: Just like you didn't expect your little one to learn everything right away, it's important to have realistic expectations for your teen. They're still growing and learning, so don't expect them to manage their homework perfectly just because they managed it last week.  It is expected to have ups and downs, depending on the day and the learning process.

  • Talk it Out: Make sure your teen knows they can talk to you about anything. Listen with more than just your ears, and let them know it's okay to feel however they're feeling. Get permission before giving advice and allow yourself to get curious instead of judgmental.

  • Celebrate Progress: Don't forget to celebrate the small victories along the way. Whether it's remembering to say thank you or resolving a disagreement with a sibling, acknowledge their efforts.  They really are trying and what you celebrate, you'll see more of.

  • Love Always Wins: Most importantly, show your teen that you love them no matter what by giving them the benefit of the doubt when they slip up for the thousandth time.  They are not purposely being difficult. They're going through a lot of changes and a lot of learning, so be there for them with love and support. Let them know you're on their team, no matter what.

Parenting a teenager can be quite the rollercoaster ride—lots of ups and downs. I's all part of the journey! 

Just as you're constantly learning how to navigate parenthood,  your teen is also figuring things out as they go. 

Remember: It’s their first time living too.

But by treating their mistakes with the same grace and understanding you did when they were little, you're creating a nurturing environment for growth. 

So, the next time your teen stumbles, take a moment to breathe, lend a helping hand, and sprinkle on some extra love.

We're all still a work in progress, and that's perfectly okay!

Get "How to talk to your Teen for Better Connection" for more tips.

Teen Power Thoughts