Communicating with your teenager

Contact me

Teenagers have a lot to cope with. They will be experiencing puberty, grappling with new demands and responsibilities in all areas if their life, alongside trying to develop their own identity and coping with peer group pressures.

It may not be easy for a teenager to express their anxieties, difficulties or feelings. You may find your teenager resorting to frequent angry outbursts, withdrawing, or using unhelpful strategies such as alcohol, drugs, or excessive dieting to help them cope.

Your teenager is likely to be grappling with conflicting needs to become more independent whilst still wanting parental approval and reassurance.

Supporting a teenager

It is helpful for a teenager to know that despite their behavior you wish to help them to explore rather than judge what might be going on for them. You can explain to them that you would like to explore with them whether their challenging behavior/s are a way of them trying to cope with difficult or confusing feelings. If possible both parents should be consistent in the messages that they are giving to a teenager around boundaries and acceptable behaviour.

Try to be non judgemental and non blaming whilst setting consistent boundaries in a way that resons with your teenager about their responsibilties alongside your role as their parent.

As your child becomes a teenager both of you will need to navigate changes in your relationship. 

"Our teenager's behaviour is causing tensions between me and my partner"

As two parents try to make sense of and navigate challenging teenage behaviour this may exacerbate tensions in their couple relationship. You and your partner may find yourselves blaming each other for what is happening and have different ideas about how to support and set boundaries with your teenager. This is a time of transition for all of you and trying to become more united as parents in how you offer support, guidance and set boundaries with your teenager may well help them to make sense of their confusion and difficulties. If becoming more united as parents poses some challenges you may want to consider some sessions of couple counselling.

Sometimes a teenager can get caught up in the difficulties in their parents relationship and find themselves becoming their parents mediator, or feel that they have to protect one parent from the behavior of the other.  If you think this is happening try to speak to your partner about this with the objective of enabling your teenager to be free of this inappropriate responsibility.

If there are ongoing tensions and difficulties between you and your partner, irrespective of whether they are being contributed to by diffcult teenage behaviour, couple counselling can help with these.

The role of family counselling

Family counseling sessions can be very useful in fostering supportive and helpful discussions about issues that are affecting the whole family. It can help parents and teenagers to better understand and work through these issues. If your teenager and partner are willing to try one session of family counselling it provides a great opportunity for all of you to hear each others views, feelings and ideas about what is going on.

A family counsellor may suggest a combination of family and couple counselling sessions as the best way of enabling you to make positive changes as a family. You can find a family counsellor via UKCP :