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Seven steps to a happier teenager

If doors have started slamming in your house, don’t despair. There’s light at the end of the teenage tunnel…

The teenage years…. Not known for being the easiest to handle when you are a teenager nor when you are a parent, especially when you’re a dad trying to navigate the minefield of raising a teenage daughter. Your daughter’s hormones are raging and temperaments rising as she tries to get to grips with who she is now and what she will become. There’s a big question mark over her identity as she compares herself to her peers in so many ways, including the way she looks. She’s heavily influenced by what she sees in the media and her friends, she’s seeking more independence and is back to testing the boundaries again like a toddler. She wants to be the person she really is, but is also afraid of what her peers will think and frustratingly she’s more likely to listen to what they have to say than her dad.

Bringing up a teenage girl is not always easy, but you’re not the only one who will find it a challenge – a study commissioned by bonjela Junior shows that more than half of parents found the teenage years the hardest of all when bringing up their child. The survey of 1,500 parents also found that parents of teenagers can expect to be shouted at 59 times a year, while doors will be slammed once a week. During a time when emotions run high, teenagers can experience bouts of sulking and are likely to spend hours in the bathroom 66 times a year. They are also likely to empty the fridge of all its contents once or twice a week and arrive home late fortnightly. Hmm… where do we sign up?!

Child life coach Naomi Richards says, “Trying to reach out to your teenager and help them navigate life and be there for them sadly isn’t always appreciated or welcomed.” So how can you still connect with them and keep the less tempestuous relationship you had with them when they were that happy, smiling little bundle of joy? Naomi shares her seven top tips to a more harmonious life with your teenage daughters…

1. Listen to her when she wants to vent (also known as ‘share her day’).

2. Don’t advise her on problems she has unless she asks you to.

3. Take an interest in her life and allow her to have a social life.

4. Accept her for who she is and don’t try to change her.

5. Find a common interest and nurture it together.

6. Give her boundaries and trust her to keep to them.

7. Allow her to become more independent and give her space to be on her own.

“There are so many other things a dad can do to build that relationship,” says Naomi. “Letting her come to you when she needs you rather than you making demands of her spending time with you is one, another is to get her to teach you something new. It will build her confidence and connect the two of you. I think the most important thing for dads and daughters is that your daughter knows she can come to you in times of trouble and know that you will not judge her and that you will work through the problem together. She will be looking to you as a role model, and be learning about relationships from you and you’ll be her rock even though it doesn’t feels like it sometimes. Ride the rough with the smooth. They can be amazing years.”

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