This is a question many parents frequently ask me. When children are small, things are easier - they tell us everything that has happened to them during the day, they ask us for help, and ask to spend time with us. Teenagers, however, are at a stage when they want their own space. Their opinions differ from ours, and the activities that we suggest doing may seem boring to them.

For this reason, it is important to show interest in their hobbies in order to share time together; this could be following a TV series or watching sports matches together. Another important element is asking them for help because teenagers feel that we are constantly telling them what to do. Therefore, if we ask them for advice, or they explain to us about topics they know more about, they will feel that we are validating their opinions and treating them like the young adults which they are. In the same way, when they tell us about their problems and dilemmas, we should not start by saying "You have to ...", but listen to them, ask them what they have thought about doing, and then suggest alternative courses of action, always validating theirs, of course

The most important thing to remember is that one of the most important steps of interacting with adolescents is to encourage their independence. There is not an instruction book that works with all teenagers, but, as a general rule, it is important to allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. Above all, parents should make their children aware that they are always there to listen and give advice when they need it.

Miriam Mower
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Miriam Mower
Children, adolescents and adults
Languages: English and Spanish
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