How to Get Along With Your Teenager by Marta Adelsman, Psy.D.

How to Get Along With Your Teenager

Marta Adelsman, Psy.D.

The transition between childhood and adulthood can be tough.  Your adolescent must accomplish the developmental task of separating from you, his parent.  For most teens and for parents as well, it’s a scary process.
Healthy parent-to-teen relating develops new ways of relating that leave behind parent-child components in favor of adult-to-adult communication.  Making the shift often creates instability and disequilibrium.  Before you reach a new harmony, the process often looks and feels chaotic.
I offer here are a few tips to manage the chaos and to parent adolescents successfully:
Diffuse the difficulty of these years by talking to your pre-teen about the developmental task ahead of him.  Let him know separating from parents can be a rough ride.  Tell him of your intention to get through the process with mutual respect.  Invite him to join you in laying the groundwork by communicating with each other how you would like to be treated.  This will be easier if you have already established a precedent for respectful conversations about feelings and expectations.
Use an assertive style of communication rather than an aggressive style.  Assertiveness means you respect your rights and those of your teen.  You take responsibility to set clear and firm boundaries.  You ask directly for what you need from her.  Assertiveness involves making requests instead of demands.  You relate with directness, openness and honesty while maintaining an even tone of voice and good eye contact.  You see your teen as equal to you (not in amount of experience but in her personhood), worthy of your respect and consideration.
An aggressive style uses hostility, threats and intimidation to manipulate your teen to do your bidding.  It ignores her rights as a human being.  It makes demands such as, “Turn down that damn music!  Can’t you see I’m trying to get some work done?”  An assertive request sounds like, “Please turn down the volume so I can get my deskwork done.”  Aggressiveness speaks with sarcasm and insults:  “Of course I can’t help you!  Do you think I’m at your beck and call every time you have a school project?”  Assertiveness says, “I’m sorry I can’t help you with that today.  I have a doctor’s appointment.”
Be real with your teen.  Tell the truth.  Let him know you sometimes aren’t fully confident how to parent a teen and you’re learning as you go.  Admit when you make a mistake.  If you fear you will lose status if you speak your truth, I assure you that confessions of imperfection make you more human in your teen’s eyes.   Authentic speaking may sound like, “I feel terrible when I yell at you,”  “I don’t know the answer to your question,” or “Sometimes the choices you make scare me.”  These honest admissions will reap huge benefits in the form of mutual respect.
If you incorporate these suggestions and keep your sense of humor, you are well on your way toward remaining on good terms with your child throughout those turbulent adolescent years.

Marta Adelsman, Psy.D., practices in the Verde Valley as a Life Coach in Communication and Spiritual Consciousness.  She coaches in person and over the phone.  To contact her with comments or questions or to schedule an appointment, call 928-451-9482 or email  HYPERLINK “mailto:drmartacoach@gmail.com” drmartacoach@gmail.com.  Website: drmartacoach.com

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