You know your teenager is suffering, but how can you help them? They won’t talk to you. Your teenage daughter wants to spend all her time with her friends or in her room alone. You know your daughter is smart, stubborn, and holds tight to her opinions without always listening to your wisdom and guidance. Is there a way to get through to your teenage daughter and let her know that you will be there if she needs you? Or that she can turn to you with her problems?
The good news, there are several ways to help solve teenage girl problems by being a close, but not intruding parent.
Understand Teenage Girl Problems And The Brain
First, to understand teenagers, we have to understand their brains. Teenagers' brains are going through many different changes. Your teenage daughter’s brain is in the middle of pruning itself by eliminating what it doesn’t need and strengthening what it is currently using.
Sadly, the last part of the brain to be pruned and strengthened in the prefrontal cortex or the area for decision-making. The prefrontal cortex helps your teenager to think about the consequences of their actions, solve problems, and have impulse control. This won’t be finished until your teenager is in her 20s.
While this occurs, your teenage daughter is using a part of her brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for emotions, impulses, aggression, and instinctive behavior.
As your teenage daughter’s brain is not fully developed, she will sometimes make irrational decisions that leave you wondering how she ever could have thought that was okay, or why she doesn’t think through her actions before making decisions. Your child’s brain is still under construction.
Give Age-Appropriate Responsibilities To Your Teenage Daughter
If you want to help your teenage daughter to be able to solve her own problems, you have to give her age-appropriate responsibilities, whether that is with chores or with curfews. During the process of assigning responsibility, this can be a great time to encourage negotiation and boundary setting. Let this be a conversation rather than a dictatorship. Learning how to negotiate and set boundaries starts with practicing this at home before being able to do it with friends or eventually in the workforce.
Age Appropriate Responsibility Can Look Like
Your teenage daughter cooking once a week
Cleaning her own room or bathroom
Babysitting younger siblings occasionally
Having an allowance from chores and beginning to use her own money to pay for thing
Possibly getting a pet for her to raise
Have Family Routines To Reconnect
Part of solving teenage girl problems and being a close but not intrusive parent involves spending time together and having family rituals to reconnect. Family rituals could be cooking or baking together once a week, having family meals every night or once a week, family game nights, or family movie nights. It could be that when your teenage daughter comes home from school, you wrap her in a hug or every night saying three things you are grateful for at dinner. When you get your teenage daughter busy doing something, then your teenage daughter will be more likely to open up about her teenage girl problems.
During these routines, be sure to offer praise and positive rewards for behaviors. The more positivity you put into your relationship with her, the more positivity she will treat you with. Let your teenage daughter know how valued and loved she is and that she can come to you for her needs. Be there
Let Your Teenage Daughter Fail
If you are an intruding parent, you may be afraid to let your child fail. This leads to you always being in control and your teenage daughter never learning how to manage her own problems.
One strategy of parenting is to...let your teenage daughter fail. Let my child fail?!? Yes. In small tasks, such as forgetting their homework, trying to decide what to wear to school, or how late to stay up.
Every time you swoop in and save your teenage daughter you aren’t allowing her to face her problems. Every time you lecture her, you are taking away from the relationship. Plus, chances are, your teenage daughter has stopped listening to your lectures. Your teenage daughter needs to learn how to solve her problems and that she can solve them. You can still be a close parent to her by being there and offering guidance, but ultimately letting her problem-solve on her own or face her own consequences.
Have An Adult Support System
Your teenage daughter may not always want to come to you with her problems as you are her parent. The trick is to identify who your teenage daughter may be close to in her life and arrange for times she can spend with that special person. For some teenagers, it can be an aunt, a grandmother, a friend’s mom, an older cousin. It can also be a therapist that your teenage daughter may trust. This can be a great place for your teenager to have a sounding board and hear other adults’ stories so it isn’t always you lecturing. This way you are being a close, but not intrusive parent while she solves her teenage girl problems and learns how to reach out to others for support and advice.
To increase safety and trust, please make sure that the support person and your teenager daughter know what the teenager shares with them stays with them unless it is physically harmful to themselves or others.
Your teenage daughter is in the middle of an intense discovery of herself which can lead to teenage girl problems. She can use parents who are open-minded as she explores her sexuality, gender, or fashion style. As your teenager is in the middle of this discovery, the worst thing you could do would be to scream at them, tell them no without hearing them out, or not allow them any responsibility or independence. Part of being a close parent is listening to your teenager, reflecting on what they are saying, and then make an informed decision. You don’t always have to agree with your teenage daughter, but you can hear her out and make her feel heard, not just shut down or ignored. Family therapy can be helpful to work on communication patterns with your teenager to ensure you are staying open-minded with them and listening to what they have to say, versus just shutting it down. For more advice on how to have a positive relationship with your teenager, click here. If you are wondering how to solve family problems or when to talk to someone, click here.
Ultimately, parenting a teenage daughter and handling teenage girl problems can be difficult. You may have your days where you feel everything is going great with your daughter, and days you feel you may be raising an alien. The most important thing to focus on is continuing that relationship with her, whether it is by spending time together, listening to her, checking out what her responsibilities are, or stepping back from saving her from her mistakes.
If you are looking for counseling for your teenage daughter or family counseling, Mary Willoughby Romm is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia who provides online therapy for Willow Tree Healing Center. She enjoys transforming the lives of women, college students, kids, tweens/teens, and families through providing communication strategies, coping skills that work, allowing a safe space to be heard, and actively working towards helping you with your challenges. She is certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (ages 2-7) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counsels substance abuse in teens and adults, and practices Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.
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