How to Talk to Your (Irrational) Teenager

Yes, it's possible to influence your teen even when he or she is being rebellious or inconsistent. Here's how an expert on adolescence approaches issues with his own children.

Personal opinion: Parents of teens are, in general, candidates for sainthood.

Teens' opinion: Parents are @$#%*#!!!

Nonetheless, it's possible to have a fruitful conversation with your teen, even when he or she appears to taking an irrational or inconsistent position, says Dr. Christine Carter, director of the parenting section of UC Berkeley-based The Greater Good.

Carter recommends a five-step approach:

—Express empathy.

—Ask open-ended questions.

—Reflect what they are saying.

—Show them their inconsistencies—gently.

—Support their autonomy and emphasize their personal choice and control.

Clark says the approach is based on "motivational interviewing," a technique used by professionals working with adolescents and other patients. She credits Ronald E. Dahl, M.D., a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and an expert on adolescent brain development.

Dahl uses this approach with his own children when he wants to influence them, according to Clark's article.

For examples and details of how to put the technique into practice, see Clark's complete article here.

What works best for you when talking with your teen? Share your tips in the comments section below.


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