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How to Accept Your Teen While Encouraging Positive Change

Although it often doesn’t make it easier as a parent, you might genuinely know that your teen is trying to make positive changes. But, you still feel frustrated sometimes. After all, sometimes it’s hard to accept (or understand) teenagers and their behaviors.

Perhaps the cycle looks something like you becoming upset and them lashing out—and so the cycle goes.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are strategies you can use to accept your teen while at the same time encouraging positive change.

The best part is that these concepts are not simply reserved for professionals practicing teen therapy. They can also help you too for working to improve your relationship with your teen.

Keep an Open Mind

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s really hard to have an open mind to accept your teen. What they say or how they act can seem ridiculous at times, even outlandish.

Yet, keeping an open mind is important for accepting your teen. Mostly, because your teen already knows what it’s like to be judged by others including:

  • Peers
  • Teachers/coaches
  • Organizational leaders
  • Relatives
  • Parents

When you feel judged all the time, it can be very hard to make progress towards positive change. That’s because change requires trying new things and making mistakes.

If your teen constantly feels judged, they are less likely to take those necessary bold steps to catapult change. So, as best you can, try to keep an open mind that’s free of judgment.

Acknowledge Their Thoughts and Feelings

To acknowledge your teen’s thoughts and feelings is known as validating them.

Self-expression is important at any age. And teenagers are just learning how to do this. Also, they desperately want to be understood (even if they say the opposite). When they do feel heard and understood, it’s so empowering!

You have the power to nurture this by being willing to listen to what they have to say. Additionally, use reflection techniques to acknowledge you have heard what they are saying.

Self-expression is a critical skill not just for navigating their relationship with you but also every other relationship in their lives. In therapy for teens, they will have a safe and accepting place to learn to express themselves.

Emphasize the Positive

Think for a moment, are you a glass-half-full kind of person or half-empty? Often people joke that being a glass-half-empty person means they are “realistic.”

However, this thinking pattern translates to how they relate to other people, including their teens. Furthermore, it can easily backfire, causes you to have a negative opinion on everything.

With your teen, this can be annoying at least and angering at worst. Rather, try to emphasize the positive with your teen.

For example, you could say, “Even though you missed that last shot you still earned three points for your team!” Note that this isn’t coddling your teen or helping them to avoid the harsh realities of life. Instead, it’s a tool to continue utilizing their positive coping skills.

Create a Space for You and Your Teen

You need to create a space to promote and nurture positive change for your teen. This includes both a physical and emotional space.

For example, in therapy for teens, the therapist will have a meeting location that doesn’t have a sterile, clinical feel. Also, they will intentionally work to promote an inviting atmosphere. You can do the same thing with your teen, and you have a lot more room to work with such as:

  • Eating dinner together at the dining room table
  • Playing a pickup basketball game in the driveway
  • Hiking together
  • Cooking a meal
  • Visiting a park
  • Driving together
  • Going to a movie

These experiences allow you to connect with one another. Also, they are opportunities to spend time together, as well as for you to encourage positive change.

Trying to accept your teen can be challenging, especially when dealing with difficult behaviors. Yet, the best way to promote positive change is by working to strengthen your relationship.

However, if you find that both you and your teen are still struggling with making progress, don’t hesitate to talk to a teen therapy specialist. Find an expert therapist for teens that is committed to supporting your family at Suffolk DBT.

In-person or online therapy for teens in NYC and Long Island is available at Suffolk DBT. Please reach out to our team at Suffolk DBT today, or visit teen counseling to learn more about how we can help.

Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced NYC therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges.

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