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How to talk to your teen. 5 ground rules

Talking to your teenagers can be one of the most challenging experiences in your adult life. Even the most level-headed of parents can find themselves in a rage after trying to get their teen to do even the simplest of tasks. Here are some ground rules you can use when talking to your teen.

how to talk to your teen

You are not their friend – Though they seem emotionally mature and ready to take on the stressors of the world, they are not and cannot. Their world is full of it’s own complexity and we, as their parents, cannot share our burdens with them.

You are the adult in the room – Though teens can make us seethe with anger, we need to react to their provocations with the wisdom that our years of life have given us. If you need to, remind yourself that you are the grown-up and, regardless of what they want, you still do have the final say.

Though they can make a good argument, their brains aren’t fully formed- Teenage brains waste a lot of energy on lines of reasoning that ultimately make little to no sense. Using logic and reason may be helpful in dissuading a teenager from making an obviously poor choice, but sometimes, even if well argued, the right answer is still the right answer.

To be heard, you also need to listen - Model for them the way you want them to act with you. Even if the answer is still “no,” taking the time to listen to them respectfully and with love can make a huge difference down the line.

You were once like them – It’s so easy to forget that we were once their age and asking for more or less the same things that they’re asking for. We once suffered from similar social pressures and seemingly un-resolvable dilemmas. Being compassionate with them can not only help them grow into healthy and mature adults, but it can also help us heal the wounds we experienced at their amazing and terrifying age.

Dr Benjamin Bregman, MD

Interested in modern integrative psychiatry? Please, consider Washington Integrative Mental Health Clinic.

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