For almost a decade, I have been telling parents that the teen years are some of the most difficult to navigate. Not only for your child, but for you too.

You are in the grey area where your kiddo is not a “baby” anymore, but they are also not a “grown up.” 

You both feel awkward when you try to connect. It’s hard to decide how. Play with legos or go for coffee? 

It’s an unsettling feeling for both kids and parents when they aren’t sure how to communicate with each other. Even dull, everyday things like chores and homework feel confusing. Throw in their big feelings, and now it’s even tougher. 

Here’s some tips to get through these challenging times:

Tip # 1: BE HONEST. 

Admit it, most of the time you are winging it. Every article, book or video you have watched has left something out that you are STILL searching for. It’s okay to feel clueless sometimes, AND to tell your kid that you are struggling with what to do next. We adults are not perfect and don’t need to pretend we are. What worked for you as a kid or what worked for your other kids, doesn’t work for your kid with big feelings. 


When you admit that you are learning to navigate your relationship with your teen, it shows that you are understanding of differences. 

Your vulnerability BUILDS respect.

Tip #2: VALIDATE. One of the most powerful tools we have are our words. 

Choosing your words intentionally can take the conversation from “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT” (that ends in yelling and tears, or worse) to one that leaves both you and your teen feeling not only understood, but also HEARD. If you aren’t sure how to validate, start by identifying emotions. 

“It looks like you are really angry right now” (because you see signs of anger on their face) or “You seem sad” (because they are crying). You can also repeat what your teen says to you, 

“You’re hurt that your friend betrayed you.”

Keep practicing and you will be validating in your sleep in no time!

Tip #3 GET HELP.

This parenting thing is no joke. Needing help in navigating these surprisingly difficult years is OKAY. 

At Thompson Child Therapy, we have many ways to support you AND your teen. From individual therapy, groups and workshops. 

Reach out and start connecting with your teen in the way you have been dreaming of!

Contact Us Here

This blog post was written by Marie Burgess, LCPC.  She specializes in working with highly sensitive teens in managing their big emotions as well as helping parents understand them.