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How to Reach a Rebellious Teen

by Damon Verial, studioD
The teenage years are about casting off conformity and finding one's own identity, which leaves many parents struggling for understanding.

The teenage years are about casting off conformity and finding one's own identity, which leaves many parents struggling for understanding.

Social conformance and obedience to parents' wishes might not mesh well with your teen’s attitude, particularly if your teen has developed normally. In other words, while parents’ wishes may be that their teen act just as sweet and dutifully as she did a few years ago, it’s simply unnatural for a teen to avoid some kind of rebellion. However, this does not mean teens are impossible to reach.

Avoid imposing on your teen. Telling your teen how you would act if you were her or telling your teen how to solve her problems is likely to block any open means of communication. Without giving any indication that you understand your teen’s problems, he will have no desire to listen to you. He may even take your unsolicited advice as a sign that you look down upon him.

Give your teen more freedom of choice. Realize how little power teens truly have. Take their point of view and understand that much of their rebellion is about feeling powerful. Giving your teen more freedom of choice over her daily life will relieve her of some of that feeling of powerlessness. Next time your teen wants to leave the house in a miniskirt and low-cut blouse, give her some alternatives instead of simply stating, “You’re not going out dressed like that.”

Share in your teen’s interests. Imagine how it is to be different from everyone in your family, having a set of interests that no one shares; this feeling will only further divide family members. Bring the family closer together by engaging with your teen in his activities or in discussion of topics interesting to him. While skateboarding might not be your cup of tea, you can at least ask him questions about it and genuinely learn something about the subject. T.W. Boyer, author of the journal article “The Development of Risk-Taking,” states that when parents know more about their children’s interests and activities, teen risk-taking and rebellion are less likely.

Be honest with your teen. Teens differ from younger children in that they have a better ability to spot insincere comments. When you find it hard to reach your teen through conversation, it could be that you are failing to be genuine. Letting your teen know how you truly feel rather than “saying the right thing” will allow your teen to be honest back. With this, communication lines open up more easily.

About the Author

Having obtained a Master of Science in psychology in East Asia, Damon Verial has been applying his knowledge to related topics since 2010. Having written professionally since 2001, he has been featured in financial publications such as SafeHaven and the McMillian Portfolio. He also runs a financial newsletter at Stock Barometer.

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