SiblingsBy Blaise Brooks

Raising teenagers can be challenge, especially when you are raising a teen while simultaneously raising their younger sibling. The good news is that you’ll be pro at teenage parenting by the time your second child hits their teenage years. Even better, you’ll be able to predict certain teenage behaviors before your second child even starts to exhibit them. In the meantime, you can certainly leverage the lessons you are teaching your teen now as teaching moments for the whole family.

Here are a few ways you can make the most of the teen/younger sibling relationship:

Let them spend time together. Observe how your younger child perceives what it’s like to be a teenager. There is a lot he or she can learn from candid, uninterrupted, bonding moments. It also gives your teen a chance to share the things he or she has experienced and learned through the transition from childhood to adolescence.

Have family discussions. There are some social situations, such as peer pressure and bullying, which may affect younger kids as well as teens. In an era when children at all ages are overwhelmingly engaged online, cyber safety is also important. Talk about such situations as a family, and encourage all of your children to get involved in the discussion. It gives you the opportunity to create a space for open and honest communication, answer questions and empower your children to look out for each other.

Observe how they resolve conflicts with each other. It often helps to stand by and listen to how they approach reaching a resolution. If needed, intervene and suggest ways that they can better handle confrontation with each other as well as with their peers.

Give your teen space, and explain to your younger child why you did. As teens become more independent, they may choose to spend less time with their parents and younger siblings in favor of hanging out with friends or spending time alone. This is normal teenage behavior. Make sure your younger child knows that this is part of growing up, and not a direct reflection of how much your teen loves them and the family.

Address difficult situations in an open, yet age-appropriate manner. Your teen will likely get into trouble at some point or another. Sometimes this can cause stress on other members of the family, especially younger siblings. In some instances, it may make sense to shield your younger child from the reality of the situation, but most of the time, you can use these moments as teaching opportunities. Using your best judgment, explain what your teen did, why they got in trouble for it and how they could have handled the situation differently.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to make the most of raising teens and younger children at the same time? Please feel free to share them on our Facebook page.

Contributor: Blaise Brooks, Five Moms of Stop Medicine Abuse