Every little thing seems to set your teenage daughter off lately, and the more you try to help, the more she yells and slams her bedroom door. So, for the fatigued mothers and fathers out there, here are some tips for parenting teenage girls who seem to always be in crisis mode:
1. Become informed about today’s adolescent girl culture and issues (e.g., pressure toward sexual activity, oral or otherwise).
2. Don't try to minimize here multiple crisis episodes by saying something like, “One day you'll see how silly you have been acting.” Just listen and empathize. Part of being a teenage girl is feeling things intensely, so what may seem like no big deal to you is very important to her. Put yourself in her position, because after all, you were once there yourself.
3. Endeavor to remember how being 16 was for you. Did you feel ugly, fat, or lonely? Did you feel like your parents simply did not “understand”?
4. Figure out how to rescue your daughter from the claws of her social media addiction (e.g., texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
5. Find and retain the guts to parent wisely, even though your daughter may profess to hate you at the moment.
6. Implement a family code of values that largely involves giving to others, not just taking.
7. Instill a desire for involvement (e.g., sports, hobbies, academics, volunteering) – anything that gets her off her cell phone and into the minds and hearts of others.
8. Learn to listen effectively even though your teenage daughter may seem to be unreasonable, bull-headed, or just downright selfish.
9. Don’t trivialize the importance of things in your daughter’s life. What happens is that teen girls feel misunderstood, and eventually they will stop telling parents anything. For example, right now, it is the most important thing in the world that her best friend is flirting with her boyfriend, and you need to take it seriously.
10. Pick your battles wisely, letting the little stuff go while digging your heels in on the bigger issues.
11. Use the art of well-placed humor. When it comes to parenting teenage daughters, it’s funny how humor can motivate them when more negative tactics don’t. Being playful when attempting to diffuse a “crisis” can be very effective. It keeps parent-child conflict from turning into a contest of wills. Humor takes us to a whole different level of consciousness and helps break the negative mood – not just for teenagers, but for parents too. Humor helps parents get themselves out of a reactive state.
12. Promote a sense of spirituality (not necessarily religious, but moral in nature) which will assure your daughter of a lifetime of direction even though there will be lots of curves in the road.
13. Realize that "thin" is in, whether it’s healthy or not, even if you disagree.
14. Only have rules that are fair, clear and capable of being followed consistently.
15. Some “crisis-mode behavior” is minor and doesn't need to be addressed. It may be difficult not to call attention to each and every deep sigh, eye roll or under-the-breath muttering, but these types of behaviors are often best quelled by simply ignoring them. In time, your daughter will stop these types of behaviors if she consistently fails to get a rise out of you. More serious negative displays (e.g., destruction of property or physical aggression) should never be overlooked, but addressed quickly and completely.
16. Try to understand how your adolescent girl perceives and defines her world.
17. Understand the lure of alcohol and drugs – and find out what you can do to better “chemical-proof” your daughter.
18. Understand your daughter’s quest to be her own person, within the constraints of tremendous peer pressure to conform to often arbitrary rules and regulations.
19. When your daughter shifts into crisis mode, don't confront her in the heat of the moment. Allow for a general "cooling down" period. Give your daughter time by herself in her bedroom. Gauge the amount of time for a cool-down by waiting 1 minute for each year of the daughter’s age (e.g., if she’s 15, wait 15 minutes). This brief period gives her time to decompress, and gives you time to gather your thoughts before discussing her “issues” in a calm and effective way.
20. When your daughter is calm, discuss the problem(s) that seem to be upsetting her. Make sure you do so when you're on the same physical level (e.g., if your daughter is sitting down, you sit down too). Let her talk as much as she is willing. Really listen, without forming in your mind what you will say in response. When she is done, consider what she has said before responding. If you need extra time to think about it, let her know. When you do respond, do so with compassion and reassurance while acknowledging your feelings about the fact that there seems to be a lot of “drama” nowadays.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents