Living with teens – The growing pain of parenting!

How often have we thought: "It’s like talking to a brick wall", "I feel like I’ve repeated myself a thousand times today" , "Hello? Is there anyone there". Then - slam goes the door!

Frustrating, unrelenting and exhausting as it may prove to be, we must ‘model’ effective and loving communication to our teens – in the same way that we expect them to communicate with us. Very stressful yes, but who said parenting was easy?

Our body language, gestures, expression, grunts, silences and behaviour are all being interpreted and modelled by our teen and dare I say, magnified in an ego-centric way! How many times have you heard your teen declare, "You don’t love me, I hate this family" when all you did was snap back once in a hundred stressful conversations?

Remember they are growing and changing at a great rate and like a young colt, they need training and above all patience!

So... how do we do this?

Get centered and come from a place of love and acceptance, be firm and fair. It's ok to tell them ‘I’m struggling with this, tell me how I can best help you?’

Take time out! Breathe, don’t take it personally.

This is not about you

No matter how painful it is when your teen shouts at and rejects you, remember they are fighting for independence and developing into their own person and need their own space. So you can say, "I can see you need your own space right now, we’ll catch up later". Eventually they will be able to voice their wants and needs.

Remember you know your child better than anyone.

Listen more than you talk. Your ears are more powerful than your voice.

Empathise, communicate acceptance and understand how they are feeling; don’t react or reflect back - "So you are feeling angry and frustrated because..."

Talk with not atmodel mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual cooperation.

Allow your teen to come to you and yes, drop everything for these precious seconds of his/her time, giving them your full attention!

Negotiate ground rules and make agreements with time frames when all is calm. Gently remind your teen of his/her responsibilities. Stick to this. Do not demand, ask kindly and with respect.

Reflect on the day. How did I do? How could I have communicated more effectively? Did I give him/her a feeling of being accepted and valued? Did I open doors of communication or lose opportunities to do so? What can I improve on?

Keep practising and keep going… you are doing a great job!

  • Explain you are just doing your job as a parent.
  • Remember we are all learning!
  • Take time off from parenting, have a glass, meditate, relax!

Gather knowledge and increase your awareness of great parenting techniques. Remember there is no perfect parent, child, or family. We all do our best with what we know. Here are some excellent books to start with:

Good books

  • Calming the family storm McKay Maybell.
  • Raising respectful kids in a rude world McKay McKay Eckstein Steven Maybell.
  • Mindfulness finding peace in a frantic world Williams Penman.
  • Systematic training for effective parenting STEP.
  • STEP/Teen for parents of children 13-19.
  • Understanding Yourself and Your Teenager.
  • Changing Your Response to Your Teen.
  • Communicating Respect and Encouragement.
  • Encouraging Cooperation and Solving Problems.
  • Using Consequences to Build Responsibility.
  • Deciding What To Do – Part I.
  • Deciding What To Do – Part II.

Just a few websites

‘Helping pre-teens and teens build healthy relationships' -

Five important truths about your teen and dating -

Information for pre-teens about relationships -

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23
Written by Kim Harries, BA (Hons) MBACP Accred
Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23

Kim is a BACP accredited counsellor/psychotherapist. She has a private practice; (individuals and couples) and supervises counsellors. She runs TRING Wellbeing Community - (sole practitioners work together to meet the needs of the local community). In her day job, she coaches people with mental health issues/disabilities back into paid employment.

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