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Advice for Parents

.::: Talking to Kids Aged 15-17

Teens aged 15-17 are often confused about their identity: who they are, what they want and what others expect of them. They might feel bored, angry, stressed, confused, excited and curious all within a short period of time.

Kids and parents often disagree the most during this period. The influence of friends along with a teen’s changing emotions, need for independence and feelings about his or her rights can cause conflict.

Your emotions

This is likely an emotional time for both you and your teen.

You might:

  • Feel sad that your teen isn’t confiding in you.
  • Worry about the places your teen goes to and where they are.
  • Wonder about the decisions your teen is making.
  • Feel like you’ve lost control.
  • Be confused about your role.
  • Feel helpless and not know what to do or try next.

During this emotional period it’s important to keep talking even though it might seem your teen isn’t listening.

Ways to improve communication

Being honest and keeping the lines of communication open are really important.

Be clear and encouraging.

  • Keep messages about family beliefs, boundaries and consequences clear and consistent.
  • Encourage healthy options to alcohol and drugs, such as extracurricular activities, volunteering and spending time with family and friends where alcohol isn’t involved.
  • Offer lots of encouragement and reinforcement for good decisions and responsible actions.
  • Keep taking steps to make sure your teen is safe.

Give straight answers.

Giving straight answers can be hard because parents don’t want their teens to use alcohol or drugs. But giving accurate information and talking about ways to reduce risks helps teens make good decisions.

Choose the right wording.

Knowing if your teen can handle certain situations might be more important than knowing all the details. So consider re-wording certain questions to open up conversations with your teen.

For example, asking “Was anyone drinking at the party?” might end any chance for conversation. However, your teen’s answer to “What would you do if someone passed out at a party?” will more likely tell you how well your teen can handle common teenage social situations.

Try conversation starters.

Consider these conversation starters to get your teen talking:

  • What would you do if you were in a car and the driver had been drinking or smoking marijuana?
  • Do you think it’s illegal to drive after smoking pot?
  • What do you think happens in the brain when people smoke marijuana? 
  • Do you know anyone who’s gone to the hospital after drinking too much?

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Revised: April 22, 2016

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