As teens establish independence, parents need to understand that:

- Parents are still the most important influence in their children’s lives. Teens are trying to become adults. One of their greatest difficulties is becoming independent while maintaining a loving relationship with parents.

- The teen’s struggle for independence becomes a real problem only when it is viewed by the teen and/or parents as a struggle for control.

How can I start to build a better relationship with my teen?

- Having fun: for example, a good morning smile; be willing to laugh at yourself (reminds them that mistakes are okay); let fixing meals or shopping together become a time to talk, share stories, or even by silly; share a funny experience with your teen; planning some enjoyable time together that you BOTH choice is a good idea i.e. renting a movie

- Giving Encouragement: with each bit of encouragement, young people grow to like themselves better. Encouragement means giving less importance to mistakes and more importance to your teenager’s strengths. It focuses on efforts and teens your teen that you have confidence in them.

- Showing Love: i.e. by saying “I love you,” giving hugs and pats on the back, doing things you know your teen likes such as fixing a favorite meal, speaking and acting with respect, and by allowing your teen to grow in responsibility and independence.

- Act as you’d like your teen to act: your teenager will learn more from what you do than from what you say. Teens watch your behavior, your attitude, and what seems to work for you. Then they choose for themselves the qualities they value and want. Remember: you are a role-model.

- Giving Choices (rather than commands): aims at helping teenagers become responsible by showing respect and giving them opportunities to make decisions.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I received my Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Women's Studies from UC Santa Barbara. I have a wide range of experience with a variety of populations and cultures, spanning from children involved with the Department of Children and Family Services, court-mandated teens, high-risk families and trauma victims. I have a lot of experience working with trauma (sexual, physical, neglect, and emotional), grief & loss, depression, anxiety, low self esteem, relationship issues, and multi-cultural issues. I have been trained in a variety of techniques, interventions, and modules, including Trauma Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. I make an effort to approach each client in a manner suited to his or her unique needs.

I am also a member of The California Associate of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) and Armenian American Mental Health Association (AAMHA).

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