Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Teens and Talk: What's a Parent to Do?

Even if you think you have a wonderful relationship with your child, when he or she becomes a teenager, communication may become a problem. A simple parent-child conversation often isn't simple anymore when the child turns into an adolescent.

When kids get to be teenagers, they think differently than children. There's a shift from concrete to abstract reasoning.

As kids move into adolescence, they no longer accept things just on face value. All of a sudden they have the capability of looking at things and evaluating them. So their parents can no longer rely on saying, "I love you and I'll tell you what to do—now do it." And unfortunately, the more rigid the parents are, the more likely it is that the kids will rebel.

In most cases this change in thinking process begins around the time a child turns age 12 or 13 and is complete by age 18 or 19. To communicate with your offspring during this phase, act as a consultant rather than a supervisor. Outline choices and consequences, rather than trying to command behavior.

Some tips for communication:

  • Pick a time when you're both in a good mood. Say you have some things to talk about and ask if this is a good time. If not, make an appointment.

  • Say you'd like to have a really good relationship, and ask for your child's thoughts on where things might be improved. Don't apologize, lay blame, or pick a fight. Just listen. Respond the way you might talk to a good neighbor. If you're not sure what to say, don't say anything. You can always revisit the issue in a day or two.

  • Set things up so that if the teen fails it doesn't become your problem. If your underachieving daughter wants to go to college, for instance, suggest that she earn the money for the first semester, then agree to pay her back with money she can use for the next term if she receives A's or B's.

  • Remember you can accept what a teen does without having to approve of it. The best message to give is, "I will love you no matter what you do."

The teen years are very stressful. Adolescents worry about everything—and their behavior may become more immature or unusual the more stressed they become. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your teen may need additional outside support if you notice your child doing any of the following:

  • Feeling sad most of the time and losing interest in usual activities and friends

  • Not talking or making major changes in communication style

  • Changing school performance (for the worse), skipping school, or dropping out of school

  • Getting into trouble with the law

If you're worried about your teen, don't wait for things to get better on their own. Ask for help from your pediatrician, school counselor, or school principal.

Reviewed Date: 06-26-2013

Sports Medicine and Adolescent Medicine
Joel Brenner, MD
Aisha Joyce, MD
David Smith, MD
Health Tips
Boost Your Teen Daughter’s Body Image
Cool Tools to Keep Your Kids From Smoking
Could Your Child Have a Drug Problem?
Do Parents Influence Their Kids’ Health Behaviors?
Guidelines for Raising Smoke-Free Kids
How to Let Go of Growing Kids
How to Say No to Preteens
How to Talk About Drugs With Your Kids
Keeping Your Cool When Parenting Teens
Making Rules for Children Reinforces Love
Making the Most of Family Moments
Making This School Year Your Child's Best Ever
New Parents...Sore Backs
Nurturing Ties With Your Grandchildren
Parents-to-Be Must Communicate
Paying for Attention: Abuse of Prescription ADHD Drugs Rising on College Campuses
Preparing Your Daughter for Changes
Reading to Kids Helps Their Development
Solving Battles at Mealtime
Talk With Your Kids About These Issues
Talking Sex with Your Teen
Teen Suicide: Learning to Recognize the Warning Signs
Treating Teen Acne
We Can Head Off Teen Tragedies
When Children Say 'No' to New Foods
When to Call the Doctor for Childhood Illnesses
Quizzes
Teen Health Quiz
Diseases & Conditions
Adolescent (13 to 18 Years)
Adolescent Mental Health Overview
Adolescents and Diabetes Mellitus
AIDS/HIV in Children
Amenorrhea in Teens
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma and Children
Bicycle, In-Line Skating, Skateboarding Safety--Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates
Bipolar Disorder in Children
Breast Conditions
Discipline
Dysmenorrhea in Adolescents
Ewing Sarcoma
Female Growth and Development
Gynecological and Menstrual Conditions
High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents
Home Page - Adolescent Medicine
Infectious Mononucleosis in Adolescents
Major Depression in Adolescents
Menstrual Disorders
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Obesity in Adolescents
Oral Health
Osteosarcoma in Children
Overview of Adolescent Health Problems
Pap Test for Adolescents
Schizophrenia in Children
Television and Children
The Growing Child: Adolescent (13 to 18 Years)
Wisdom Teeth Extraction in Children

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.