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Tips to connect with unruly teen

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Women and Teenager arguing
WATCH YOUR TONE: Tone of voice can be crucial in the parent/teen dynamic, especially when confronting defiance. A teen’s tone, such as frustration and even silence, can push a parent to react. In comparison, children are sensitive to a parent’s tone and sometimes hypersensitive. What a parent considers a firm tone can be interpreted by a teen as yelling. Yelling or lecturing can make them stop listening.
STICK TO THE GOALS: Before initiating a conversation with your teen, have a goal or information to relate. Teenagers can throw a conversation off track. So clearly state what you want your teen to know and steer the topic on course.
SHOW APPRECIATION AND PRAISE: Parents can never underestimate the value of this when motivating their child. Acknowledge their accomplishments along the way. Start with sincere compliments before easing into criticism when evaluating their progress and critiquing their work.
CONSIDER IF THEY'RE COPING WITH A TRAUMA: Children who've experienced a death in the family, suffered abuse or neglect, are dealing with serious issues at home or other traumas may act and react in unexpected ways. If you're concerned your child's behavior may be caused by a trauma, call Mental Health America of Palm Beach County for guidance at 561-801-4357 or the Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative at 561-588-3477.


• Marie Boswell, former delinquency prevention specialist, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice's Prevention and Victim Services
• Barbara Gerlock, chair of Circuit 15 Juvenile Justice Advisory Board

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