Maintaining A Healthy Connection With Your Teen

by Dr. Vera Gabliani, Ph.D.

The teen years—many parents dread them. The majority of parents I talk with struggle with their teens due to their attitude and ways of responding to their teen.  Teens, by their nature and by the tasks of this stage, often create great anxiety and frustration in adults.  Adults react to these emotions with some form of well intentioned feedback meant to guide or protect, which to their teen feels like control.  Teens push back directly or indirectly and the game is on!  When your teen manages to give you the feeling that you don’t matter—don’t believe it.  They need to count on your love and your confidence in them, while they are pushing on you and away from you.

Being a teen is not easy.  The combination of hormones and developing brains and bodies creates powerful emotions and reactions.  Just like toddlers, their behavior will regress under stress (i.e., being tired, hungry, upset about their friends, stressed about school).  In a teen this means being moody, cranky, defensive or argumentative and then acting as if nothing happened.

Your role  as a parent is to have reasonable limits and expectations, keeping in mind the emotional and hormonal storms of your teen’s brain and body. 

The key here is to not take things too personally and to learn to listen and support without giving in to the immediate urge to do something.  Remember that maintaining a solid connection with you helps to ground and protect your teen.

The goal is to keep a big picture view.  Just like the transition from toddlers to preschool (though in bigger bodies, with better vocabularies and delight in arguing), your teen is working on issues of independence and connection. Maintain your perspective by getting the support you need.  Trust the process, trust yourself, and trust your child.  Most of all hold a picture of your child in your heart that helps you recall the loving connection between you at an easier time.  Know that by maintaining that heart connection your teen will notice and appreciate it, even if they can’t tell you.

For over 15 years, Dr. Vera Gabliani has been helping parents maintain their sanity through the process of raising their teens.  She welcomes your calls at (314)-966-0880.