The teen years for girls are a period of real danger. Girls entering puberty often face a "crisis in confidence" which makes them vulnerable to risky behavior, and these bad choices can have devastating lifelong consequences. They are confronted with drugs, peer pressure, sex, dating, bullying and more. Teen girls encounter more "stressors" in life, especially in their interpersonal relationships, than teen boys, and they react more strongly to those pressures, accounting in part for their higher levels of depression. The best way to help your troubled teen girl is to intervene as soon as you sense something is wrong.
Here are some important tips for raising teen girls:
1. Aim at building and maintaining strong family relationships, especially between daughters and fathers. While teen girls may rebel against this, a close-knit family is a strong support structure in times of need.
2. Allow teen girls to express themselves within reason and don’t take everything personally. It is not good to repress emotion and by occasionally overstepping boundaries, girls will get a feel for what is appropriate.
3. Ask your daughter's teachers and school staff for an update on her. If they are seeing the same behaviors that you are, it's sign that your teen girl is in trouble. If they tell you her grades are slipping, she's skipping class or becoming aggressive, you should be concerned. This is also important information to gather if you're going to take your daughter to therapy.
4. Be patient. It is very important not to lose your cool every time your daughter makes a mistake or goes wayward. Remember, patience and perseverance pays. Learn to give your teen girl some time to open up. Spend some quality time with her. Give her the freedom to approach you at anytime of the day. Once this is done, your daughter would discuss with you every time she is in a dilemma.
5. Define the problem. It's important to determine the source of your daughter's behavior. Although the teen years are a time of great flux, a complete behavioral change is not a normal facet of adolescence. If your daughter seems to have done a complete 180-degree personality change, it's important to determine why. There usually is a reason.
6. Discuss sex. This might be a little awkward for you, but it is very important to discuss everything related to sex with your daughter. With virginity not a big thing for the new generation, make sure your daughter realizes the need to be careful with her sexuality and the matters relating to sex. Ensure that she knows what is right and what is wrong, when it comes to sexual intimacy between a boy and a girl. Let her see the advantages of remaining a virgin. If you don’t talk about sex, she will gather information from the Internet and uneducated peers, which may lead to bad choices.
7. Don't feel you have to defend yourself. Your teen 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 girl is not going to be able to hear what you are even saying, and if she is able to hear it, she will likely not be able to effectively process it. If you feel it is important to explain yourself (and often time it is not) then it is better to wait and do this during a time when emotions are under control.
8. Encourage daughters to set goals in life and as far as possible, model the balance between family and work.
9. Engage in family therapy. If your teenage daughter is abusive, whether you know it or not, it's affecting every member of your household. You'll want to involve everyone in therapy to deal with this issue.
10. Engage teen daughters in discussions about pop culture and advertising. Ask their opinion on the latest trends and whether she thinks they are healthy.
11. Find your teenage daughter a mentor that can help her weather the rocky teen years. Even if you feel as though you have a fairly open relationship with your teen girl, some things she simply cannot communicate to you. Whether it's a relative, a mentor from a non-profit organization or a friend of the family, allowing your teen girl to talk to someone without feeling hurt or jealous can help her talk her feelings and emotions out.
12. Get individual therapy for your daughter and any other family members greatly affected by the abuse. Parents of abusive teens can usually benefit from individual therapy or couples therapy as well, because it's extremely difficult to deal with this type of situation every day.
13. Give space. Make sure not to be too nosy. Remember, your daughter needs some personal space and that she would not like you to interfere and be intrusive about every small thing in her life. Give her the space she wants, but do not let her totally loose. A little bit of restriction and a little bit of freedom will ensure a balanced lifestyle for her.
14. Help teenage daughters to reach their full potential. This can be done by encouraging interests and providing opportunities and training in those areas. Teach them independence and allow them to make decisions and learn from mistakes. Help her to find a path by asking her what her goals are. Troubled teens are often those that lack direction. Perhaps your teenage daughter hasn't thought about her future and chooses activities with short-sightedness. Help your daughter define the future and register her in activities and classes that will help to get her there and help to keep her out of trouble.
15. If your daughter is using drugs, she's probably not going to admit it. In fact, she'll probably try to hide it at all costs and make excuses to cover it up. If you want to know if your daughter is using, drug test her. Drug-testing kits are available at most local drug stores; you also can take her to her primary care physician to get tested. Drug tests aren't always reliable, because teens have ways of messing with them such as putting water in the test instead of urine. What your daughter and the therapist discuss is going to be confidential, which means the therapist will not be able to tell you anything your daughter has told her. However, if your daughter informs the therapist that she is in danger, then the therapist is mandated to let you know. For example, the therapist will tell you if your daughter is being abused, is suicidal or is using dangerous amounts of drugs.
16. Know what matters. It's important to keep your priorities intact during your daughter's struggles. If your daughter is dealing with larger emotional, social or psychological problems, it's probably not in anyone's best interest to nitpick over a messy room or poor grades. In this case, save your energy for the more important battles.
17. Listen and acknowledge. Make time to talk to your troubled daughter. Arrange a time and a safe, neutral place to draw your daughter out without too much pressure. This could be while driving in the car, watching a show or over dinner. Ask how things have been lately, and listen without lecturing, rebuttals or dismissing concerns. Instead, acknowledge and validate your daughter's concerns and fears. Let her know they are normal, and you want to talk about them. Open the lines of communication between you so you can better understand how she is feeling. Listen to complaints and woes, but don’t try and fix everything. It is more helpful to listen in an understanding manner to allow your daughter to come to her own conclusions.
18. Offer positive feedback so your daughter can count on your for a self-esteem boost. When your daughter acts up, it can be tempting to overreact and blow up at the situation, doling out harsh consequences and even harsher words. But a teen girl will see your reactions as typical and use them to fuel and validate her bad behavior. Before you say anything negative to your daughter, make sure it's prefaced by something positive. You'll likely simultaneously surprise her and let her know that she has worth in your eyes.
19. Open the lines of communication so that your daughter knows that they are available. You may be willing to talk, but your teen daughter doesn't feel comfortable opening up to you. Wait until you're in a casual setting; ask her open-ended questions about her life at school, her social life and her romantic life. She may be generally unreceptive at first, but you're letting her know that talking is OK, and you're available when she needs to vent.
20. Provide a sounding board for your daughter. Although teens often seek autonomy and independence from their parents, they still need to feel loved, respected and understood. Talk to your teen girl about the things she's dealing with at school, her friends, and the pressures she might encounter. Let her know you're there for her as a safe and unwavering source of support. This will make her less likely to seek out approval and support from questionable sources.
21. Put yourself in your daughter’s position when trying to understand what seems to be an unreasonable request. Find out what motivated her to ask for such a thing.
22. 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.
23. Say "No". Too often parents sabotage their own efforts by saying "yes" too freely. Whether you don't have the energy for a fight or you simply don't care, saying "yes" too often can give your teenager too much freedom. Even if your daughter rebels, saying "no" lays the ground rules, especially if your daughter is dealing with drug or alcohol abuse. Learn to say "no" to your daughter when she begs you for money, the car or a late curfew. Be consistent and firm so your daughter knows what to expect.
24. Set and maintain boundaries in connection with activities such as drinking, driving, drugs, sex, curfews and computer use. Set clear consequences for breaking the rules and carry these through.
25. Stay involved with your daughter’s education, no matter what her level of ability, and guide her into wise subject choices according to her gifts.
26. Take space. If you feel yourself ready to blow, there is no reason why you cannot take space for yourself. A lot of parents 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 teenager a "cool off period" and prevents situations from escalating further. Teenagers most often will not bother others when they are in the bathroom with the door closed.
27. Talk to your daughter about what you're seeing and why you're concerned about her. More than likely she'll blow it off and say that you're worrying for nothing and she's fine. Most teenagers don't admit they need help to their parents.
28. Teach your teenage 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. Many parents 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. You know your teen daughter the best and can likely help her find a technique or a couple techniques that will work for her.
29. Use positively discipline. Your troubled daughter expects that you'll yell and discipline when she does something you don't approve of. But positive discipline can be just as effective with teenagers who think they've got you figured out. Parenting experts recommend using positive discipline to teach teens the value of compliments and positive reinforcement. Avoid negative statements, and look for the good in your troubled daughter.
30. Validate. 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. You don't need to agree or fully understand, just acknowledge and validate how she is feeling.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents