How to Raise a Responsible Teenager

How to Raise a Responsible Teenager kristinetherapyla

Do you have a responsible teenager?

What does being a “responsible teenager” really mean? As their parent, you want to trust that your teenager will make wise decisions. This means responding well in the present moment as well as planning ahead for the future. This skill requires clarity and confidence.

Do you have a plan for building the skills of confidence and in them? this is the time for them to be learning that, and a true learning requires making mistakes.

Rather than expecting your teen to already be making every choice in the most “responsible” way, encourage them to take on responsibility for situations and learn the choices that feel right to them.

To raise a responsible teenager, provide support in building confidence, tools for responding to anxiety and stress, and healthy communication with clear expectations.

Raise a Responsible Teenager

1. Building Confidence

Build confidence with clear expectations in day-to-day interactions and encouragement with new situations.

Here are three things that will support your teen to build confidence:

1. Notice and appreciate what your teen is already doing well

2. Require your teen to be responsible for some basic tasks

3. Connect your teen to something creative and “grade free”

Part of building confidence is allowing the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of accomplishments. This is why it is vital for teenagers to have freedom to make mistakes; if there is no risk, they are not the ones earning the reward.

Confidence level is a consistent factor in someone’s personality that may change over time. It is also a feeling that comes and goes on a daily or momentary basis. Both types of confidence can be built via experiences where a feeling is responded to in an appropriate way.

For example, it could be sadness that is accepted and then felt, expressed and then relieved (rather than avoided or turned into fear or anger). It can be happiness that is noticed, felt and expressed and then further pursued without fear of judgement.

2. Tools for Responding to Teen Anxiety and Stress

Even a responsible teenager will feel overwhelmed sometimes by their responsibilities. The way that you respond to your teen’s stress about their responsibilities has a significant impact on how they learn to respond to stress themselves.

Don’t fall into the common trap of telling your teenager how important a task or assignment is for their future. The underlying message of this is that your teen is incapable or incompetent. It can seem that way when you’re worried or angry, but your teen likely has the necessary skills to understand how important a school assignment or other commitment is.

That may be all the more frustrating for you. However, speak to your teen and believe that they understand the importance of their work. This will show and it will help them feel capable and respected. Also, you can show them that you’re willing to brainstorm and support them in the things that they need to do to make it happen. You may be met with some resistance at first, but eventually you will be supporting your teen to act responsibly and make use of the resources around them in order to reach their goals.

A teen who struggles with anxiety will need additional patience from you as they learn to process stress and other emotions. Your teen may be stuck in habits or thought patterns that make it difficult for them and can appear as either laziness or perfectionism.

Anxiety is practically an epidemic for today’s teenagers, so I encourage you to learn more about it. You can learn more about this in my upcoming exclusive interview with Andrea Zacharias, Teen Stress and Anxiety: Raising a Calm and Confident Teenager

3. Healthy Communication with Clear Expectations

Healthy communication starts with listening. Clear expectations start with you clarifying within yourself what you expect from your teenager and what you are willing to do yourself. Think about where you stand now regarding your own boundaries with your teen and within your life. Observe your willingness to let them make decisions on their own in order to learn from them. What do you need to clarify or modify in order to give your teen space and support to learn to be responsible for themselves?

Parents often skip the step of responding to the feeling first, and that is the cause of a huge percentage of the conflict or frustration that I see in the families with teenagers that I work with.

Avoid telling your teenager how they should process their feelings or what they should do to respond to a situation that upset them, or what they should be doing to make themselves happy. What you can do is help them feel accepted, heard, acknowledged, and supported. They will become much more equipped to problem solve themselves – and to later accept your help.

Where To Start Now

Many parents feel frustrated and powerless. Don’t give up, because you’re probably the most influential person in your teenager’s life.

It is difficult to show your teenager that you are on their team during this phase of life. Learn more about how to understand your teen and build confidence in order to have a responsible teenager!

Tune in for my exclusive interview with Andrea Zacharias, Teen Stress and Anxiety: Raising a Calm and Confident Teenager! Learn how to respond to your teen’s emotions and need and empower them as a responsible teenager. Here is the link to attend: http://www.profcs.com/app/?af=1677241 

Contact me for a free phone consultation for you or your teenager.

Why Is My Teenager So Angry?

Why Is My Teenager So Angry

Why is my teenager so angry?

Do you wonder what makes your teenager so angry? Teenagers experience their emotions very intensely, even if they do not always show it. Their emotions can come as a surprise and often feel disruptive, frustrating or concerning to others.

An angry teenager may have emotional outbursts or become cold, distant and dismissive. What makes a teenager so angry is frustration with the needs, emotions and expectations that they are placing on themselves and that they perceive from you or from others. 

What does this anger mean?

Consider the intense emotion of anger. Anger is a signal telling us what our needs are. A teen expresses anger when they are overwhelmed by their needs and emotions. They don’t fully understand the need or emotion, or they feel unable to do something about it. It can be easier to express anger rather than admit to feeling another emotion such as sadness, fear or disappointment.

There are a few key things that make a teenager so angry toward their parent. Teens often hold parents responsible for struggles that they go through when they feel overwhelmed. Also, the fact that you will still be there for them even if they behave poorly makes them more likely to show their feelings. Additionally, it is difficult for a teenager to put other feelings into words. Anger will make them feel more in-control within the short term.

Here is what you can do to help your teen respond to anger in healthy ways.

1. Approach anger together as a family

Take an honest look at your way of expressing and responding to anger.

How do you handle anger expressed by someone around you?

How do you handle your own anger?

Is your family allowed to express anger in healthy ways?

Are you able to manage your own anger and stay calm when your teenager is angry?

A lot of what your teen doesn’t understand or know how to process is aimed at you via their expressions of anger and frustration. If you dismiss your teen’s opinions or concerns, they will either shut down or fight back in anger. Give your teen the time and attention they need by just listening to them express their thoughts every day.

2. Separate emotions and behavior

Just because there are reasonable explanations for what makes your teenager so angry, this does not mean that you must accept negative behavior. In fact, it is all the more reason to address any concerns with clear expectations and boundaries. You want to help your teenager avoid creating a habit of letting their emotions overflow without any follow-through of handling the situation at hand once they are calm.

How do you respond to behavior when someone is angry? How would you like to respond?

3. Eliminate judgement and critical comments

Your teenager’s anger may be partially caused or exacerbated by comments and feedback from you that is meant to be constructive but comes across as critical or judgmental.

You may not even consider something that you say about their friends, their words or their actions to be criticism. It may seem that your teenager is too sensitive or defensive.

Consider that they are already hyper-focused on themselves and comparing themselves to others and others’ expectations of them. They already have the things you say playing in their mind.

Any effort that you can make to be honest and constructive with your comments will help your teen feel safer to make mistakes, ask questions, and be accepting of themselves. This will diffuse their anger and help them build habits of responding to disappointment, sadness or fear in more constructive ways.

4. Set up a healthy way to process guilt, sadness and fear and build their self-esteem

In addition to struggling with feeling sadness or fear, guilt is probably a contributor to the complexity of the emotions that make your teenager so angry. Although it may surprise you, your teen feels guilty about expressing their anger toward you. Teens become caught up in cycle of a feeling guilt and resentment. They express their anger in ways that push you away and then they feel that you do not care or understand. 

A therapist can help your teenager find healthy ways of understanding and expressing their emotions. They will choose more appropriate actions, have constructive conversations with you and engage in positive interactions with other people throughout their life.

Let’s talk about what can help you and your teenager. Contact me for a free phone consultation.

Your Teen is a Perfectionist: These 4 Tips will Help

teen perfectionist

Your Teen is a Perfectionist: These 4 Tips will Help


Being called a perfectionist is relatively common. It’s less common for us to consider the impact perfectionism may have on a teenager.

Does your teen get excellent grades, but at the cost of a high stress level? Or, do theyget poor grades because she waits until the last minute to complete her work?

Perfectionism is often a form of anxiety that’s overlooked because it is socially acceptable, and even frequently praised by peers and adults. Perfectionism can also contribute to procrastination, as the task seems too overwhelming to start, much less finish, because either the task seems to large (making it difficult to begin) or because of the risk of not doing the work perfectly.

Does any of this sound at all like your teenager? Would you like to help reduce or prevent this destructive habit?

Here are four things that you can do as a parent to help your perfectionist teen build confidence, manage stress, and tackle obstacles in a positive way.

1. Focus on who they are, not on their achievements or mistakes

It is difficult for teens to see their own worth separately from what they can do well and/or what others think of them.

Your love and approval of her must be in no way contingent upon successes or failures. You can be a safe haven from the comparisons and judgment that they are surrounded by in the world.

For example, rather than “Good job!” try “You have so much patience and persistence!” as this puts emphasis a personal quality that they possesses rather than on the quality of what they produced.

2. Model managing stress in healthy ways

If you are constantly overwhelmed, it has an impact on your teen. If your emotions are unpredictable and you tend to be reactive, your teen will create a habit of trying to predict the future and avoiding conflict.

Model observing and accepting your own feelings and behavior, rather than judging or feeling fearful when noticing feelings and behavior.

Perfectionism often is fueled by impatience, both their own impatience and yours, so keep that in check – not only toward them, but toward yourself – be more patient.

Rather than being hard on yourself for being reactive, focus on what you can do to set yourself up for success in the future.

3. Encourage your teen to engage in something that takes practice

Help your teen find a fun or engaging way to practice breaking down a task or an experience into steps (such as a creative outlet like a sport, musical instrument, or art class).

These type of tasks require practice, and they won’t turn out perfectly every time!

Having these skill-building experiences will help them when they need to tackle problems in other areas (such as school or relationships). Work will no longer appear as one large task but as many small steps that complete one project.

4. Help them sort through thoughts and track progress consistently

Perfectionism causes your teen to gauge progress sporadically. They will on what isn’t good enough, only noticing the risks and not the benefits. Your teen will feel unable to take steps forward toward a goal and fear making a mistake. A perfectionist teen views a mistake as a huge failure.

A therapeutic space offers a way to explore and understand how to build confidence and positivity from the inside out. A therapist will help your teen focus and value their work without procrastination and perfectionism.

Help your teen find healthier ways of accomplishing goals and engaging in the world.

Contact me with any questions you have about your teenager and your desire to help her be healthy and succeed.

What to Do If Your Teen is Overly Controlling or Resistant to Rules

What To Do If Your Teen Is Overly Controlling or Resistant to Rules

As a parent, how do you respond to an overly controlling or argumentative teen? It’s frustrating and draining to feel that your teen is resistant to your authority or trying to push your limits. Do you wonder why this started happening? Do you feel at a loss for what to do about it?

Hey, Read Me Later (Download this article as a free .pdf – click here)

What To Do If Your Teen Is Overly Controlling or Resistant to Rules

If your teen is trying to control their surroundings, they are really trying to feel more in control of themselves.

Many teens are rebelling against being controlled by others. They are trying to exert their independence.

The most important thing for you to recognize as their parent is that if your teen is trying to control your behavior (or anyone else’s) they are not feeling as though they have enough control over themselves. This can be incredibly anxiety provoking, and anxiety also feeds the perceived need to control what is happening around us.

This is a form of anxiety that can create a trap for your teen because they look outward to seek comfort through controlling situations around them rather than looking inward to reflect on what they can control.

Teenagers are bombarded with new thoughts, drives and emotional patterns at this age. A teen who is overly controlling, angry or exhibiting bullying behavior is often struggling with high levels of stress, which may indicate anxiety or depression. Trying to control their surroundings is likely a symptom of this stress.

A teen who struggles with anxiety may even appear to have less empathy for those around them.

Teens are naturally more self-centered because their personal values and boundaries are forming, requiring them to think of themselves or their own needs before others. New emotional reactions can feel strange to your teen, and they can lash out when trying to learn to manage these emotions. This often looks like disruptive or manipulative behavior.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. A typical day for a teen involves being told what to do by teachers, parents, other adults and peers. True, these may be people who have excellent guidance for them. It’s still difficult to always have to be listening, rather than listened to. It is healthy for a teen to want to assert control over themselves in order to have a voice and learn responsibility.

The frustration of being in this situation where they are always expected to listen will cause a teenager to bully or control the adult who will never leave them (yep, you). This is not meant to excuse the behavior; in fact, it is vital for your relationship with your teen that the behavior is not tolerated. This simply offers you an opportunity for insight into your teen’s struggle.

Teens often worry about what others think.

Your teen’s mind is wired to be learning about themselves and the world via social situations. They may be expending a lot of energy wondering what the people around them are thinking, even if they don’t want to be or wouldn’t admit that they are. Teenagers are learning about themselves by being hyper-aware of others. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Your teen can’t control what others think, but many teens find themselves desperately wishing to do so – even if it’s out of character for them. This can be frustrating and confusing for a teenager to deal with.

Believe it or not, your teen is concerned with what you think of them, too.

Be cautious of the messages that you are sending your teen about their power to make smart choices for themselves. It is important for a teenager to feel capable and valuable, even if they don’t yet have all of the responsibility of an adult.

Your own frustration or fear may cause you to criticize or micromanage your teen. This will only leave you grappling with more rejection and resistance from your teen.

Hey, Read Me Later (Download this article as a free .pdf – click here)

So what can you do as a parent?

Your teen needs clear boundaries and limits, and part of seeking those out is pushing against ones that exist. Your role is to stay within a balanced range between rigid and chaotic, where your rules and limits are clear yet flexible. In other words, you are open to the idea that your rules are imperfect or that they will need updating as your teen grows. However, you are also willing to stand by any rule that you do set until a change is necessary.

You have another challenging task, which is keeping your cool and remaining the “mature” one. If you engage with rude behavior like name-calling, you show your teen that you will allow it. If your teen is purposefully rude to you, walk away from the conversation. Then, attend to it later. Rude teenagers often need the most attention and care. Many teens feel they are not being heard, and because of this, they are less careful (or more purposefully disturbing) with their words.

More Helpful Ways to Approach Your Teen

Pursue activities and experiences for your teen to develop their knowledge, interpersonal skills and problem solving abilities. Let your teen’s interest guide their behavior and give them freedom to choose activities that interest them. In order to help them focus on the things they can control, don’t tell them what they should be doing or thinking. Instead, ask them questions that help them focus on what they do that makes them feel good about themselves.

Finally, rather than engage in a power struggle with your teen by trying to assert control over them, have a collaborative conversation about rules and roles at home. Clarify what you expect from your teen as far as contributions at home and in relationship with other family members. Truly be open to your teen’s opinion and input about these topics, and consider their feedback when setting your rules. Many rules can be agreed upon together (such as fair chores to do at home). It is your job to enforce consequences and maintain clear expectations when adjusting to new practices at home.

It is absolutely vital for a teen who seems overly controlling to find ways to understand and address emotions of frustration, fear or stress. Find a therapist who specializes in helping teens understand and manage their emotions, communicate clearly and grow in healthy ways.

Do not let your teen develop negative habits that need to be unlearned. Now is the time help your teen stop the controlling behavior and feel more in control of themselves.

Download this article and get updates on the next live round of my online course for parents of teenagers, The Parent-Teen Guide.

Hey, Read Me Later (Download this article as a free .pdf – click here)

How to Talk with Your Teen: Sex Education and Other Tough Topics

talk with teen sex education

How to Talk with Your Teen: Sex Education and Other Tough Topics

Join me today for my free interview: How to Talk to Teens About Sex Exclusive Interview

Sexual education is a touchy topic for most families. Bringing up sex with your teen can bring up irritability, embarrassment or anxiety for them – and for you, as a parent! Is it difficult to get a positive conversation started with your teen? Do your attempts to talk often turn into mini-lectures?

Don’t blame yourself! One-sided “talks” are tricky to avoid, especially with topics like sexual education, which can easily trigger feelings of judgement or fear.

If you tend to argue with your teen, struggle to get a straight answer from them, or rarely get more than “I don’t know,” it’s time to try some new approaches to communication.

You’re probably concerned about them starting to make reckless choices now that they may have more freedom (and rightly so). However, this concern can make it even more difficult to approach the conversation in a way that promotes healthy decision making for your teen.

Try this approach.

How to talk with your teen about sex education and other tough topics:

1 Identify obstacles

What gets in the way when you try to talk to your teen? Do your best to name it.

Fear

One of the most common obstacles that parents face is their own fear or discomfort about topics like sex education, drug use, or any rule or boundary.

Confusion

A parent’s own lack of clarity between rules, suggestions, consequences, and support can be confusing for teens. For example, a parent might punish their child for something as if it is bad behavior to be ashamed of, rather than understanding a teen’s feelings about it first. Their teen may already feel ashamed because of regret or because they felt pressured in some way within the situation either by the other person, friends or just overall assumptions about sexuality.

Stress

Also, some parents may not consider how it impacts their teen’s self-esteem and stress level. Just like there are fears that you may have, your teen likely has fears that you could potentially put to rest by acknowledging them, educating your teen, and offering emotional support.

Assumptions

Assumptions are often to blame if communication is difficult unproductive. For example, you may assume your child is being dishonest or secretive, but your teen may simply not feel that they have the words to convey what they want to, or they themselves feel anxious about what and how to share with you.

Control and Power Struggles

Another impediment is a parent trying to control your teen’s opinions. It actually makes it far less likely that you will have a positive influence on your teen’s own opinion if you expect them to adopt your own. This comes off as unsupportive and your teen may feel unsafe communicating a different perspective.

Learn about the other common obstacles (and how to avoid them) by joining me for my free interview: How to Talk to Teens About Sex Exclusive Interview

2 Start the sex education conversation in a direct and positive way

There will never be the perfect time to talk about sex with your teen. Take time to be aware of what your fears and assumptions are about sex education. If you are uncomfortable imagining your growing teen as a sexual person, you need to work on letting that go. It is normal to feel this way, but if you’re afraid of your teen’s sexuality, they will feel shame. They may not choose to be sexually active, but it they need to be able to think about it, talk about it, and feel proud of whatever it is that they chose to do or not do.

Learn more about ways to start the conversation by joining me for my free interview: How to Talk to Teens About Sex Exclusive Interview

3 Help develop your teen’s decision-making skills

Teach your teen to decide for themselves, not just do as you say because you say so. Always ask them what they think about a situation, any situation, even if it doesn’t involve sex education. It is best to not be searching for a specific answer. Help them learn from their mistakes not by lecturing or rescuing them, but talking them through helping themselves.

Your teen will definitely be in many situations where they are pressured to do something sexual, directly or indirectly. While you may want them to be thinking “My mom or dad would get mad at me,” what you need them to be thinking is “Does this feel right to me? Do I feel safe? Do I feel uncomfortable?”

Does your teenager seem to be the most adventurous in their group? Be cautious of what you say. Pointing out how they don’t want to look like a “player” or a “slut” is not helpful. This will only make them feel misunderstood and criticized by you. They may feels as if you are looking for the worst in them or taking the worst interpretation of how they look or behave.

Learn more about how to support your teen’s development and decision-making abilities during this interview: How to Talk to Teens About Sex Exclusive Interview

4 Build your teen’s self-esteem

Foster healthy self-esteem by encouraging the things that you already see and want to see more of. Show your pride in their abilities, intelligence, independence, sensitivity, genuineness – whatever quality you can honestly identify in your teen. If those things are nurtured, they won’t turn to unhealthy attention-seeking behavior.

If they do seem to be drawn to seek out reckless behavior, do not try to diminish that. Instead, still try to help them channel that into positive areas. A tendency toward reckless behavior can be a completely normal part of growing up and finding yourself. However, it can also be a symptom of emotional distress. Your teen may be trying to express anger, depression, or a sense of powerlessness in life.

Don’t punish reckless behavior, it will only push your teen away. Reckless behavior has natural consequences (less trust from you and friends or consequences at school). Rather than wasting energy trying to make them feel worse, help them find healthy ways to express themselves through therapy, creative activities, and quality time with people that care about them – be it family, friends, or mentors.

Don’t hesitate to get your teen help if you feel that their behavior is harming themselves or others. Learn more about how to help your teen have a healthy, safe sex education from the information in this free event for parents! Click here: How to Talk to Teens About Sex Exclusive Interview