Parents of teenagers

A family of four

Your teenager’s behaviour will change as their brain grows and develops. This might be alarming or upsetting, and you might feel rejected or quite worried about them. Our young people’s information pages about Feelings & Emotions might be helpful if you’re worried about something in particular.

What might help?

Be flexible and creative in how you communicate with your child as they grow older – any conversation is better than no conversation, so try to adapt as they grow and change. Continue to let them know you are someone they can trust.

Remember, too, that your teenager’s behaviour towards you isn’t personal – their ability to think rationally, make good judgements and feel empathy is often impaired during adolescence.

Most young people don’t find teenage years easy and if you cast your mind back, you'll probably remember that you didn't either!  Try to remind yourself though, that their brains are busy undergoing important changes and they need to break away from the family to grown into an independent adult.

Get to know what pushes your buttons and what pushes theirs. Try to avoid these ‘push button’ situations or practise walking away when things get heated if you can.

What to do if you're worried or concerned

Because  teenagers’ behaviour can change so much, it might be hard to know whether you should be alarmed or concerned. It can also be hard to know if and at what point you or your teenager might need extra support with behaviours that you find upsetting or troubling. Certainly, if their behaviour or what they are telling you is concerning over a prolonged period of time it could be time to talk this through with someone on a helpline or to seek some support for them (and you).

There are a lot of resources available to help if you're worried your child may be experiencing significant difficulties, or facing mental health issues. The Dorset CAMHS service is just one of those, and can provide support for young people and their families following a referral to the service; you can find more about other organisations that can help in our guide to What's in Dorset for Me.

More information

Take a look at the links in our guide to Useful Resources for Parents, or the following resources can help if you're worried or want to know more about supporting your teenager:

Anna Freud guide to talking to teenagers about mental health

Relate guide to parenting teenagers