Your teenager needs you. Although teens often act like they don't need or want to be seen with you, many surveys show that teens do want their parents to be involved in their lives — to attend their athletic events, ask about their friends, spend time with them, hold them accountable and share their dreams and goals.

Teenagers are continuing to develop physically, emotionally and mentally. They need your support and encouragement as they mature. Just as you protected your children when they were 2 by not allowing them to cross the street alone, they still need you to protect them from the dangerous aspects of our society.

Below, you will find some general teen parenting principles that may be helpful. If you have more questions, please ask your child's pediatrician for additional resources.

Teens want to be respected, just like everyone else.

  • Compliment and praise your teens for their good choices and decisions.
  • Let your teens hear you complimenting them in front of your friends.
  • Encourage teens to set goals, both short- and long-term, and make plans to help your teen reach them. This is the best way to develop self-esteem.

Teens need to be connected to their family. Teens engage in fewer high-risk behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, abusing drugs or becoming sexually active, when they are connected to their family. Some ways to stay connected include:

  • Eating meals together — and using the time to communicate. Turn off the television and other electronics while you eat.
  • Participating in activities together such as biking, hiking or camping.
  • Participating in community service, such as volunteering together at your favorite charity.
  • Limiting everyone's use of media, so you share more activities.

Teens do better in homes with hands-on parenting. "Hands-on parenting" means the parents are involved in most aspects of their teens' lives and set limits on their activities. This may include:

  • Monitoring what teens watch on television
  • Monitoring what teens do on the Internet
  • Restricting the music, movies and video games your teen buys and uses
  • Imposing a curfew
  • Knowing where teens are after school and on weekends
  • Assigning teens regular chores

Teens need you to convey your values.

  • Teach your teens your values in all areas of life — finances, including use or abuse of credit, work ethic, responsibility, and social and community responsibilities.
  • Tell your teen if you disapprove of teenager smoking, alcohol and drug use and sexual activity. Your teens are listening!

Teens need to learn the relationship between responsibility and privilege. Parents should not allow their teens privileges that are inappropriate for the teen's age or level of maturity and responsibility. If your teen doesn't pay attention to her homework, it's unlikely she is ready to pay attention while driving a car.

Teens need to know your rules and your limits, and the consequences if they break them.

Teens need to know that you will be flexible in areas that don't violate your ethics or values.

Teens should always be provided with a way out of dangerous situations. Let your teen know that you can always be called to rescue him or her from a dangerous situation — no questions asked. Your goal is to assure that your teen remains safe.

Teens need to stay busy. Teens who participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports, drama, music, art or religious activities, are much less likely to have time to get into trouble. However, teens who work more than 20 hours a week at a paying job don't do as well in school.

Teens need to learn new tasks. Help your teens become competent in the skills they will need later in life — balancing a checkbook, budgeting, cooking and doing laundry are all necessary life skills your teen needs to learn.