Tips for Thawing Your Teen's Cold Shoulder

When it comes to teens, parents sometimes feel like they're dealing with a different species all together.  Things like raging hormones, stress, sleep deprivation, growth spurts, self-consciousness and neurological wiring make teens super sensitive, moody and irritable. They're stuck in the middle of childhood and adulthood with the an urge to be independent. More physical changes are happening to their bodies that at any other developmental period in their life. Research confirms that their brains are wired differently so expect them to be a uniquely difficult species.

The secret is to "know thy teen" because no two are alike. Once you know what's "normal" for your teen, look for anything that deviates too much from the standard. That's why it's important to tune into your child to understand what's going on at this critical stage of development. Most parents are experts in those baby years, but are not as knowledgeable about those crucial teen years.

The top reasons that your teen might be giving you the cold shoulder are:

1.Stress: School, schedules, tests, worrying about the future, college acceptances, sleep deprivation

2.Peer pressure and the social scene: Girlfriends/boyfriends, fitting in, peer pressure

3.Substance abuse:
Don't overlook drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs

4.Hormonal changes: 
A growth spurt and adolescence

5.Your attitude:
Use the "friend test": Would you talk to a friend the way you relate to your teen? If your friend won't tolerate it, it's time to be honest and change your attitude.

6.A bad habit:
One you've allowed to continue.

So, why is it so important for parents to know their teen and develop their relationship? Because you can really spot the difference between "normal" and something else more serious that may be triggering a cold shoulder. Don't underestimate your influence on your teen. Though peers may influence a teen's behavior more, parents influence attitudes more than peers. Attitudes are far more long-term and significant.


If the problem is a bad relationship, how can a parent fix it? There are a number of ways to improve a relationship with a teen. The key is to find what works with your teen, use an attitude of "patient persistence" and don't give up!

Learn 2 txt! Many teens say they would respond more to their parents if they were to use text. Teens actually prefer texting - so to get in your teen's world, learn to text!

Be 80 percent positive, 20 percent negative. Use the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say it" policy. The ideal is to strive to be at least 80 percent positive and 20 percent negative when dealing with your teen. Slowly stretch your time together without a cold shoulder or blow up. Better to have your interactions be short and positive to thaw out a relationship

Learn the words "I'm sorry." Apologize when you are wrong and sincerely convey that you hope you never have "another last night."

Give kudos. Find anything your teen is doing that deserves recognition.

Hope for the truth. Find some truth in what your teen is saying. Even if it seems
unreasonable. You don't have to agree with what he says. But strive to find one part where he's right. "Can't say I agree, but you sure are learning some great debating principles."

His time + Your time = The right time.Identify the time your teen is most receptive, and then use that as the optimal time to approach your teen. Hint: Most teens are sleep-deprived and actually on a different time zone than adults.

Communication blockers are communication techniques that are almost guaranteed to tune teens out and off. One study found most teens give parents a "D" for listening (even though we say we do listen). So beware of your own. Here are a few communication blockers to avoid:

Talking too much or lecturing
Sarcasm, put downs and judgments
Intense eye contact
Irritable tone of voice
Being too rushed to pay attention

If you can't get anywhere verbally then write notes. One mom and son used a journal to write comments back and forth (which helped reduce conflict and rebuild the relationship).

Have you tried any other tips or techniques for breaking through to your teen? I would love to hear about your experiences, so leave a comment below!

12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know.

Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web