A girl sitting on a bench

Dealing with teenage girls

May 2, 2019

Psychologists spend many hours talking with clients about how they should understand the hormonal changes and social horrors that teenage girls go through. People often try to be cool and understanding and use the verbiage they read about or see on television. I want you to feel comfortable honey, how do you want me to react to your friends? The response may very well be, just don’t talk. Ouch! How do you fall off that pedestal so hard and so suddenly?

Then comes the yelling and the screaming and the I hate my life! Often parents will respond with, You don’t even know how good you have it, there are people that have no food, you know how it goes. It doesn’t work, not even close. Trying to reason when a child is feeling very emotional, goes nowhere, well, nowhere good that is. You can very easily go from I hate my life to I hate your guts! You’re evil!

How many of you have fallen into the trap Does this look good? Comedians are getting laughs all over the world when joking about men and their wives and this issue. Ha! Teenage girls would eat those women for dinner! Mothers absolutely never say the right thing to a child of this age. Does this look good? Probably response, ‘Yes, honey, that looks great. You are so beautiful‘. Her reply, Mum, ‘you have to say that, you’re my mother. Why don’t you ever just tell the truth?‘ Okay, next time she says, Mum, does this look good? Likely response, ‘Well maybe if you wore the black shoes instead’. Huge mistake. That just added thirty minutes, a possible tardy, high blood pressure, red eyes, ringing ears (from all of the yelling all of the way to the school), and the lovely, Mum, thanks for ruining my entire day.

A young girl sitting on a bench

Here’s the good part. There are ways to get around it. Here are some really basic rules of handling a teenage girl and it works!

Ten Things to Remember when tangling with a teenager girl

1) Validate her feelings. I know you must be angry… Sounds dorky, but it works.

2) Listen to what she is saying and let her finish her sentences even if you have to bite your tongue until it bleeds. Resist the urge to interrupt. Resist it!

3) Do not try to use logic, they donít want to hear logic, they want to be heard. Fight the urge to debate. She doesnít need to see your point, not now, she probably can’t.

4) Set very clear boundaries (When you begin to raise your voice at me like that, I will have to leave because this conversation is going nowhere.) Be careful of wording here because she may just rake you over the coals in a soft, sweet voice.

5) Be consistent. You have to set the boundaries and stick to it every time. It doesn’t matter if the cat just puked or your other child has the third child in a headlock, or your husband is waiting for you in another room with a glass of wine and ten carat diamond, be consistent!

A person sitting on a rock

6) Be willing to admit when you make mistakes. A lot of times the girl/monster is really angry at herself or feels a sense of guilt because she is out of control. If you admit your fallacies, she will feel less like a louse and more willing to confide in you. (I am sorry if I upset you. I should known that this would hurt your feelings. I really didn’t mean to make you feel bad.) Even if you have no clue of what you did, this often works.

7) Never use you statements, only I statements. Instead of ‘Why can’t you just get it together! You are acting like a two-year-old!‘. Try, I feel as if something must be bothering you and I’d like to help you with it. It makes me feel really sad when we have these arguments. How can I help?

8) Never under any circumstances compare her to another child, not her brother, not her sister, not her friend, that will only make her feel worse (remember these rages stem from feeling inadequate, out of control, or hurt), pointing out that she is lesser-then will only make matters worse.

9) If at all possible, try to use humour to diffuse the situation. It works! Letís say she is thrashing around on the bed, whining to beat the band, or kicking and screaming, just look at her, pause, and use your best Jerry Seinfeld impression, with a dry, sarcastic tone, mention flatulence or nose secretions and nine times out of ten, sheíll start laughing. It helps her get out of the situation that she doesnít have the skills yet to get out of. Either that or you will get the Mom, you are the sickest human being alive! Either way, the spell is broken.

10) This one is really important. Always remember to go back after the crisis is over and discuss what happened. I know it’s hard. I know that you want to avoid another confrontation like the plague, but there must be some processing of what happened in order for growth to occur. Have a heartfelt discussion about how you both felt and have her come up with ways that a similar situation can be handled differently next time. Then when it does come up again (and trust me it will) you can refer back to the conversation. It helps.

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoBrooke Cagle unsplash-logoJordan McDonald unsplash-logoÁngel López unsplash-logoHannah Busing

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