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The Art of Not Reacting to Your Teen’s Reactions

So, you just told your child they can’t do something. Maybe you said no to a concert, a movie date with a young driver, or a gathering with no adult supervision. What happens next? Does your child storm out of the room fuming under their breath? Sulk for an entire evening? Slam his door on the way into his room?

All of these possibilities are disruptive and unsettling to a parent. However, they are totally normal reactions when teenagers don’t get their way. One of the mistakes parents make is to call their teenager on how they “react” to being told no. Teenagers, like all of us, do not like to be denied something they want. Most are not mature or self-aware enough to thank their parent for making the tough decisions.

If you have a teenager that defies you, then that is something to be very concerned about. But, if you simply have a teenager who feels angry at you, and as a result may say a throw-away comment, or spend an evening showing just how much they disapprove of your decision, then you have a teen who is acting well within the parameters of normal behavior. 


How to Get Your Teens to Talk

We all want our teenagers to open up and talk to us, but it is often easier in concept than in execution. After spending my career working with teenagers, raising my own, and in my current role as the Dean of Students at a top independent school, I have a couple of insights that might help.


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