Parenting Skills: Increasing Positive Behaviors in Teens

Parenting Skills

An Effective Parenting Strategy to Help Increase Positive Behaviors in Teens

Parenting Skills: Increasing Positive Behaviors in Teens

When raising a teenager, it can be challenging to encounter and know how to respond effectively to mood changes and dysregulation, aggressive behaviors, defiant language and seemingly argumentative dialogue. 

Many parents may struggle with identifying and implementing effective boundaries to manage these challenging behaviors, while also struggling to reinforce positive behaviors that showcase their teen’s strengths and interests.

What works?

While some strategies may work for one teen, they may not work for another, so it’s important to be flexible and try different approaches until you find what works best for your child.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss effective parenting strategies that can be used to help increase positive behaviors in teens and help to reduce the frequency of negative behaviors.

Positive Reinforcement

One of the most common and effective parenting strategies is positive reinforcement. This involves rewarding your teen for good behavior with praise, attention, or privileges, even for seemingly basic tasks, such as clearing their plate, loading the dishwasher or putting their clothes in their drawers.

When done consistently, positive reinforcement can help encourage your teen to continue exhibiting positive behaviors- being noticed and appreciated feels good and it also models how one can show appreciation to others. 

It is important for you to consider what values align with your family- such as mutual respect, kindness, cleanliness, safety, open communication- and how you believe one might show or express these values through behaviors or words.

Praise and Recognition

Praise and recognition can be great ways of encouraging positive behavior in teenagers and is a way for you to shape their behavior with supportive feedback rather than shame. 

When a teen has done something that aligns with the family’s values, say thank you or compliment them for their effort and positive action. 

Lessen Criticism

The goal is to lessen the amount of criticism that your child may feel when corrected for negative behavior and increase a sense of capability and pride when positive behaviors are exhibited.


You may also want to consider appropriate external rewards to help reinforce behaviors that you are hoping to encourage and maintain.  While the goal may be that your child feels intrinsically motivated to clean up after themselves, shower consistently and pack their own lunches, it may be helpful to provide external motivation. 

 Consider rewards based on your child’s strengths and interests and provide additional privileges accordingly.  Note that you are still able to offer additional privileges within limits that seem appropriate for you and your family. 

For instance, you might consider expanding your teen’s curfew an extra half hour each night or for Friday and Saturday nights only.  You may offer your child extended time to use the family car, while continuing to set limits as far as replacement of gas used or driving with a limited number of people.

In our next blog, we will explore ways to decrease unhealthy and challenging behaviors in teens.

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