As I discussed in the previous post, teenage girls can be very emotional and as the parent of a teenager, you are often on the receiving end of thse strong emotions. Below are some techniques that you can use to help both you and your teenager manage these difficult emotional times.
- Validation: let your daughter know that you understand she is upset (even if you don’t understand why) and that you know it must be difficult for her to be that upset. Sometimes just feeling heard can make a very big difference in how your teenager responds to you. Again –you don’t need to agree or fully understand, just acknowledge and validate how she is feeling.
- Remain calm: this can be very difficult – especially if your daughter is yelling at your or saying hurtful things. However, if you also become extremely emotional, you will likely not have a productive interaction and you may end up feeling bad that you said things you later regret. Speaking in an even, calm voice often results in the other person lowering their voice and calming down.
- Take space: if you feel yourself ready to blow, there is no reason why you cannot take space for yourself. A lot of parents I have worked with find that going into the bathroom is the best way to do this (although each person should do what works best for them). Whether you go to take a shower or bath or just pretend you need to be in there doing something, often times this gives both the parent and the adolescent a “cool off period” and prevents situations from escalating further.
- Don’t feel you have to defend yourself: your teenage daughter may accuse you of things that are not true, say things that are hurtful or exaggerate situations. As the parent, you do not need to help them rationalize these things during an emotional moment. Likely your teen is not going to be able to hear what you are even saying and if they are able to hear it, they will likely not be able to effectively process it. If you feel it is important to explain yourself, then it is better to wait and do this during a time when emotions are under control.
- Teach your daughter calming techniques during non emotional times: it is often helpful for parents to talk to their daughters about ways of remaining calmer during times when things are going well. I have worked with parents who were able to come up with plans for their teenage daughters where they can ask to be left alone for ten minutes to listen to music and calm down before continuing the conversation. Other parents have worked with their daughters on deep breathing, counting to 10, writing down how they are feeling first before yelling it, etc. These can all be effective if discussed and reviewed during non-emotional times.
As the parent, you know your daughter the best. Trust your instincts while allowing yourself to be open to understanding what might be going on for her. One of the most important things to remember, while enduring the stress that can be associated with parenting a teenager and while dealing with everything else in your life, is that you need to practice good self care. It is important for parents to stay connected to the things that they enjoy and which bring them stress relief during a period which can often times be unpredictable and chaotic.
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