When your charming little daughter turns into challenging teenager, it can be hard to know how to adapt and what to do. The best approach is to try to carry on as before and show support and respect whenever you can, although this can be extremely difficult when faced with sulks, rages, insults or irresponsible behavior. Nevertheless, your efforts will be rewarded, because despite the evidence, she still needs you, perhaps even more than before. In particular, she needs your familiar, reassuring praise. Here are some ways and opportunities for giving it.
Praise her for little things
Whenever your teenager does anything commendable, show your appreciation. If she helps clear the dishes after a meal, let her see your gratitude. If she carries in a bag of shopping for you, or even just opens the door for you to stagger in with all your bagfuls, thank her. If her mood prevents her from helping with anything, praise her for something else, such as her newly washed hair, her new mobile device, or the speed at which she clicks on it. Any admiration from you will help your relationship, as well as her wobbling self-confidence.
Praise her for qualities seldom mentioned
Personal matters tend to be avoided in everyday conversation, but if you have a positive comment to offer your daughter on such a subject, go ahead. It’ll do her good. When she’s in a good mood, you might want to tell her that she’s fun to be with or a joy to have around. You might express admiration for her patience over some delay, or for her hard work at school. If she has plenty of friends, point out that she’s obviously well liked, and deservedly so.
Praise her for positive attitudes to others
Your teenager may be charming to others, although not to you. If so, try to refrain from jealousy. She’ll come back to you when she’s ready. Meanwhile, let her know that you’re impressed by her patience with Grandma or her kindness to her little sister. Praise her for her courtesy to her friends’ parents, or even just for the way she treats your family pet. She’ll be secretly soothed and strengthened by any praise you offer.
Share her problems
Remember that you were a teenager once, with difficulties and frustrations like those of your growing daughter. Explain this to her, to show you’re not just her parent, but a human being, going through different stages in life just as she is. By opening up a little yourself, you’ll make it easier for her to do so, and your experience-based understanding will encourage her further.
Now you can broach some of the matters that are bothering your maturing child. Do this as subtly as possible, starting with casual questions about small matters. If you meet a brick wall, no matter; she’ll know you’re there for her, and deep inside, she’ll treasure the fact.
Whatever your troublesome teenager does, or fails to do, remember that she is still your precious daughter. Show her you value her, and one day she’ll show you that she values you too. You may have a while to wait, but your patience and understanding in the interim will pay dividends in the end, when she emerges as a wonderful young woman.