Talking with troubled teens

The teenage years can be hard for many parents. Your child needs your help to eventually become a unique and independent adult, but it can be difficult to let go.

While conflict is normal with your teenager during this process, you can still have a positive relationship. Teenagers need advice, support and monitoring to learn how to make safe and responsible decisions for themselves. And good communications is an essential part of a positive relationship.

How do good communications help?

Good communications helps to deal with conflict and stress due to differences of opinion and behaviour. It may also help to reduce the risk of harm due to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. A mental health problem left untreated can lead to poor performance at school, alcohol and drug abuse and even an increased risk of suicide.

Tips for good communications

The overall focus should be on keeping the line of communications open. Suggestions for parents include:

  • Listen more than you speak, don’t interrupt and show genuine interest. This sends a powerful message to your teenager that: ‘Right now, you’re the most important thing to me.’
  • Make opportunities to speak, including incidental times such as offering to take them to or pick them up from places.
  • Keep up with your teenager’s interests, including music, TV, leisure activities.
  • Be a loving parent. A teenager’s self-esteem can be challenged during this process, your love helps support them.
  • Have fun, share leisure time: Good feelings help build rapport.
  • Respect privacy and give teenagers their own space. For example, knock before you go into their room.

For more information speak to your GP, visit

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