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Posts Tagged ‘teenage girls’

I can remember being a teenager on a luxurious vacation with my family in the Caribbean and caring about nothing more than what I was missing with my friends due to being away from home.  In the summertime we would go to Nantucket on our boat and I remember being so angry with my parents that they MADE me go on a summer vacation because it meant I might be missing out on something with my friends at home.  What I wouldn’t give now to have those problems!!!

The point is that for most teenagers, nothing is more important than having friends and fitting in.  Especially for teenage girls – often their moods are dictated by what is going on with their friends.  When they are having successful relationships with their friends they are feeling good and are in good moods.  When they are struggling with friendships, feeling “out of the loop” or inadequate – watch out!  They will often present with an intense negative mood regardless of what else is going on in their lives.

As most people are aware, teenage girls can be cruel, jealous and quite vicious at times.  Relational Aggression is a term which refers to the way in which girls can be mean to one another through low-level bullying, gossiping, ignoring and excluding and through verbal attacks.  The result of this relational aggression can be devastating for teenage girls.  Being excluded from the lunch table, the weekend outing, the online chat group, etc. can cause teenage girls to feel worthless, alone and extremely insecure.

Teenage girls often judge their value by where they stand in social groups which can cause significant stress, anxiety and uncertainty.  Once teenage girls are able to form solid, longer lasting friendships, their reaction to this social pressure decreases.  Being in with the most popular group becomes less important as girls get older and as they begin to form solid relationships with a smaller group of friends who they trust and care about as individuals.

As a parent, this can be a very difficult stage to witness.  It can be heartbreaking to witness the sadness of your teenage daughter if she is feeling like she does not fit in or if she is on the receiving end of bullying or exclusion.  What can be helpful is to know that this is a stage that will usually pass as girls reach their 20’s and into their mid 20’s (sometimes earlier).  Parents should not interfere in these friendships  (unless there are true safety concerns) since this will likely create further problems for their teenager or result in their teenager resenting them.

A few helpful suggestions for parents who have teenagers experiencing difficulties due to social pressures are:

  • Be there to listen to them when they are ready to talk about what is going on with their peers or to talk about how they are feeling.
  • You can gently offer suggestions but being too directive or telling them what they should do could result in their shutting down from you.
  • Don’t try to minimize what they are reporting or feeling.  Don’t say, “things aren’t that bad”,  “people DO like you”, etc.  If they are telling you it is really bad then that is what it feels like for them so you should validate how they are feeling about the situation.
  • You may want to offer them an opportunity to have different exposure to social situations.  This may give them an opportunity to have some success with a different peer group while they are trying to sort out the difficulties they are experiencing.  For example, if you daughter is having trouble with peers at school you may want to explore finding her other, out of school activities where she can meet a new peer group.  A dance class, sports league, YMCA, music classes and art classes are all great places for teens to become involved in group activities with their peers.

As I stated above, witnessing your teenager experiencing difficulties with peers can be very painful to watch.  Even with the most connected and loving family, a teenage girl will experience significant distress if she is not feeling connected to a group of friends.  The good news is that this phase will inevitably pass and generally girls are able to form solid, trustworthy social networks as they move into adulthood.

For more information related to Parent Teenagers, go to www.HowToParentATeen.com where you can access our audio program designed specifically for parents of teenagers.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

If you like these tips, Like us on Facebook on the right hand side of this page, Sign Up to receive our blog posts ongoing, Follow us on Twitter and go to www.howtoparentateen.com for more FREE, valuable information designed specifically for parents of teenagers. 

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Do you feel like you are living with an Alien?  Where has your sweet daughter gone and who is this challenging, emotional girl who has taken her place??????  What I have found is that many parents of teenagers feel this way.  They feel like their child is a completely different person once adolescence sets in…and for teenage girls…watch out!!  As one of two girls growing up in my family (we were only one year apart so my parents got the double whammy of teenage girls for many years) my parents certainly experienced all the emotions and “drama” that often go along with raising teenage girls.  Frequent topics of drama in my home growing up involved who was going to get to use the phone (for hours on end usually), who was borrowing what clothes from the other, who got to sit in the front seat, what time curfew was, who was treated more fairly and who was hogging the bathroom while getting ready for school or to go out on the weekends.  Looking back, it is amazing how these few topics could lead to so much yelling, crying and door slamming.

Can you relate to this?  Although the times and technology have changed, the themes remain consistent.  Does it feel like your child turned into a different being once adolescence hit?  Well, they very well may have.  The good news is that there was not an alien take over, the bad news is that this is unfortunately very common and you, as the parent, feel the brunt of it (my parents certainly did).  Understanding it does not completely change it, however, it can make it better and it does seem to help parents better manage their own emotional responses to the behaviors of their teenage daughters.

The information I am sharing does not describe every teenager or may not describe your teenager 100%, however, it is meant to offer some normalcy to what you may be experiencing with your teenage daughter as well as an understanding of why some of these behaviors are typical of teenagers.  This post will focus on some common behaviors of girls during adolescence.

Why is my daughter so different since she hit adolescence?

The most obvious difference between boys and girls when they hit adolescence is that while boys tend to withdraw, girls engage and often they engage with a fight.  That is not to say that girls don’t spend enormous amounts of time in their rooms, on the computer, or talking and texting on the phone, however, they tend to pick battles and fight with their parents more often than teenage boys.  Teenage girls struggle to regulate their emotions which often times feels overwhelming, confusing and “all over the place” to those on the receiving end.  This is what creates those moments where you may witness (or more often be on the receiving end of) yelling, hysterical crying and screaming.  It may seem to come out of nowhere, be very misdirected and may seem very over the top for the situation at hand.  This is normal (and extremely stressful).

Adolescent girls are dealing with many changes happening at once.  First, they are experiences significant changes in their bodies with the development of secondary sex characteristics, general growth and at times weight gain.  This can be extremely stressful for girls and can result in embarrassment, low self esteem and much confusion.   Second, they are dealing with new, sexualized feelings which also result in behavioral changes (I know you don’t want to think about this but it is happening!).  They care more about what others think of them (hence the hours in front of the mirror), care more about what they are wearing, whether they “look fat” and care about who is hanging out with whom.  Third, they also begin to be seen as sexualized beings by others their same age which is a major change that creates a new level of self consciousness and peer pressure.  Finally, they are seeking independence which means putting friends and members of the “outside world” first versus seeing their parents / family as the center of their world.  That’s a lot going on, right?  It certainly is and all of this can result in emotions that are confusing and strong.

Emotional dysregulation takes place when the response of an individual does not appear to be “appropriate” for a particular situation.  This often looks like an “over reaction” to a situation or a prolonged emotional response to a situation.  Emotional dysregulation is not uncommon for adolescent girls and generally plays out in the safety of the home which results in you, as the parent, more often than not being on the receiving end of it.  In the next post, I will offer some suggestions for responding if you experience this with your teenage daughter.

I have often heard individuals say, “teenage girls and their mothers never get along”.  While this is a generalized statement, there is some validity to it.  The reality is that teenage girls are usually more attached to their mothers and therefore, in order to gain independence, they need to work hard at breaking that attachment.  Although there can be a similar dynamic with fathers, relationships with adolescent girls and their fathers tend to be less turbulent and outwardly emotional.  So, with their mothers, girls work hard at resisting the close connection they feel which ultimately causes them more confusion and often a stronger emotional response.

If you are a parent experiencing this it is certainly not fun and can be extremely emotionally draining for you right?  How could it not be?  It is difficult to witness the extreme emotions from your child and at the same time you don’t really know what they are actually struggling with, you can’t fix it and you have to try to manage your own emotions.  Not an easy job at all!  Sometimes understanding what is going on can make things easier.  Basically, what your teenage daughter is doing is healthier than you may think.  She is working to disengage from you, however she keeps you connected through the fighting, the yelling and the screaming.  She struggles to increase her independence but also keeps her relationship with you strong through the fighting (this does not necessarily feel good in the moment but it does maintain her connection to you).  Your daughter is ultimately getting support from you during these difficult battles even though it is likely not the way in which you wish she would seek support.  Understanding this along with reviewing the tips in my next post may help you in those moments when you want to run out of the house, lock yourself in your room or pull your hair out.  Being a teenage girl at this point in time is not an easy task – your daughter needs your support, consistency and validation even though she will likely never ask for it.

There is certainly much more information related to what makes teenage girls tick, however, this overview is meant to help you, as the parent, gain an understanding about what may be going on for your child which will help you make decisions which are best for you and your family regarding how to deal with your teenage daughter effectively.  I do want to stress that while most girls go through this process safely, there are others who experience significant difficulties during this difficult period of transition.  Some adolescent girls begin to use drugs and/or alcohol as a way of gaining confidence in social situations, to “fit in” or for managing their confusing emotions.  Others become involved in negative peer groups and succumb to the peer pressures associated with criminal activity or unsafe sexual promiscuity.  Some become emotionally out of control and become aggressive and violent.  If you have real concerns about such behaviors, you should consult with an expert who can help you determine if additional support or help is needed.

My next post will provide you with some concrete tips for managing your teenage daughter’s challenging behaviors.  If you like this article and want more, please subscribe to it in the right hand column and by Clicking LIKE on the Facebook feed on the right at the top of this page or below.  Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for more valuable information and for periodic special offers.

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