Raising teenage girls may not always be easy! Navigating a successful passage through your teenage daughter's adolescence can be particularly challenging. It can seem as though your sweet little girl has developed a brand-new personality overnight, and the whole process can feel like a rollercoaster ride.
However, your teenage daughter is going through all kinds of physical, mental, and emotional changes. It’s a difficult and bewildering time for them, too. Teenage girls in the modern world are building an independent sense of self amid the challenges of high school, hormones, friends, academic challenges, and new interests. Every family’s journey is unique, and it’s important that you, as an adult, work with your teenage daughter to help them through these changes.
Here's a guide to help you deal with the challenges of dealing with difficult teenage daughters.
Puberty is a significant stage in a person's life and will have a powerful impact on your teenage daughter.
Typically, girls show signs of maturity earlier than boys. For girls, puberty begins around age 11, and girls become physically mature between the ages of 14 and 16. However, emotional maturity does not usually proceed at the same pace.
Big physical changes accompany puberty, which may well be a source of your daughter's body image and self-esteem issues. Teenage girls can be self-conscious during puberty due to their discomfort with their physical development.
As well as the body, the adolescent brain develops throughout the teenage years, particularly the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and judgment, and it doesn’t fully mature until the mid-20s. Teenage girls are, therefore, much more susceptible to shifting impulses and emotions than mature adults.
Because puberty affects a teen girl's physical and intellectual development, you will also see signs of hormonal changes reflected in your child's mood. Mood swings and emotional responses are common at this stage in most teens, so what you may initially see as bad behavior may be your teenager trying to handle more emotions than they can cope with.
Answering back, questioning your authority, saying no: if your teen daughter shows signs of defiance, there may well be a reason. Your daughter's urge to question authority is because she is starting to understand the world differently now that she is maturing. The teen years are a time when many teens finally realize the wider world around them, their place in it, and what independence means for them. If your child is questioning your judgment, she may well be looking to you for answers to these bigger questions.
Of course, it's important to notice when the questioning turns aggressive or is accompanied by inappropriate behaviors and be aware of any underlying issues due to possible mental health conditions like teen depression and anxiety.
Teenage girls and their friends are often immersed in social media. A survey by Common Sense Media reported an average daily screen use for teens aged 13-18 of an amazing 8 hours and 39 minutes daily – a large portion of their waking hours.
Although social media has positive aspects, there can be extremely negative effects when teens post pictures or share and comment on images. The same Common Sense Media survey reports that 35% of teenage girls on social media are concerned about being tagged in unflattering photos. And 22% say they feel bad about themselves when no one comments or "likes" their posts.
This social media pressure leads to teenage girls developing body image issues, which can result in mental health issues, including eating disorders.
Lisa Damour, a clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships with teen girls, encourages challenging social media, stating, “You want your daughter to become a critical consumer of the media, so use what [they’re] watching to help [them] build those skills. Swing by the couch or lean over [their] laptop and say, 'I'm all for mindless entertainment, but you know I'm not a big fan of shows that celebrate women for being sexy and stupid.' Your daughter may roll [their] eyes but do it anyway. Girls can listen and roll their eyes at the same time.”
Damour's advice and approach could make a real difference in how you interact with your teenage daughters in these important matters.
Social media pressures can be severe, but if your daughter is involved in cyberbullying, it can have a serious effect. Most teen girls have constant access to the internet, which is easy to use to target people for bullying and shaming. Of course, they can be on the receiving end of that.
A parent cannot just tell their child not to get bullied. And if they are the ones targeting or bullying others, the parent will need to determine the reasons for the bad behavior. Is your teen lashing out at others because of some unresolved emotion? It's important to look at the root cause of the issue so, as parents, you can help your daughter resolve it.
Teenage girls who self-harm are not necessarily suicidal. In many cases, they may be seeking control and your attention. So look for any signs of self-harm, such as eating disorders and drug use, or wearing long sleeve shirts in hot weather. Don't dismiss any indicators as difficult behavior - seek professional help if you see anything concerning.
The number one solution for parents is to listen. No matter what age they are, everyone wants to be listened to, and in the same manner, one of the best things you can do for your daughter is to spend time listening to her in a non-judgmental way.
In the first instance, don’t try to solve or fix the problem or share your own experiences – just listen and let them lean on you. When your teenager hurts, they want you to be there as a safe place, someone who wants to understand, who is invested in them – who genuinely cares. This is the key to opening up the lines of communication so that any advice given will be listened to.
Once you're listening carefully to your daughter, you can start to talk more openly and even start giving advice that will be positively received.
Communication is always the key to successful relationships. Parents should connect with their children as often as possible, as more open and honest communication between parents and teenagers can only have positive benefits. It is likely to decrease the risk of challenging and negative behaviors and contribute to improved teen mental health.
Remember that your 'difficult teenage daughter' is developing their identity for life as a young adult beyond your family boundaries. Part of that involves pushing back against what they perceive as parental control. Difficult teenage daughters aren’t generally being difficult out of spite - they are acting out in the one place they can be themselves, surrounded by love. And they are acting under the influence of those intense hormonal changes.
You're bound to be the subject of a few eye rolls and tantrums. Stay calm and don't take it to heart - remember to be there in readiness to listen and communicate.
When dealing with teen issues, think back to your teenage years, and put yourself in your daughter's shoes. Be the adult you would want to talk to at that moment. Be empathetic and compassionate in your parenting and spend time with them. This will be beneficial to both of you. One study found that we cope better with others' negative emotions if we strengthen our compassion.
Even at this difficult age, when dealing with a range of issues with troublesome teen daughters, there are hopefully plenty of happy moments as well. As Mom and Dad, you should focus on what’s working, point out the positives, and make sure your daughters know that they appreciate them.
For teens to develop their sense of self-worth and gain self-esteem, a certain level of safe, positive risk-taking is essential. So let your children take risks, but make them healthy ones, such as traveling, performing, outdoor adventures, physical challenges, and entering new social situations. One of the toughest aspects of parenting can be letting go to let them grow, but it's an essential part of your child's development and your ongoing long-term relationship.
Parents should model the behavior they'd like their children to imitate. So if you, as a Mom or Dad, wouldn't like to be compared to others, don't compare your daughter.
When you're talking to your children, point out their good qualities, not just the behavior you don't like, and never be tempted to say, 'You should be more like so and so'.
When teenagers start to express themselves in ways you don't love, such as listening to music you hate or dressing in a way you'd rather they didn't, the best advice for parents is to let it go. Allowing teen girls to express themselves, even if it means some negative behaviors need to be overlooked by adults, shows that you understand them and would like to consider their opinion.
In this way, you can create rules and consequences through mutual consent, and they are more likely to listen to you when it comes to other matters rather than thinking, 'Here we go again ... '.
Always know your relationship can never be damaged beyond repair. Talk to your children. Remind your teen girl that they are loved, and never withhold love from your teenager because of their bad behaviors - listen, communicate, and be there with love.
Although it's often easier for parents to blame teen girls' bad behavior on puberty or say she'll eventually grow out of it, or it's just a stage of adolescent development, a broken relationship or continued bad behaviors by your teen daughters may need the help of a mental health professional. This is particularly important if you have concerns about mental health issues or self-harm.
We all expect and accept having some tricky times with teens, but if you feel overwhelmed when dealing with a difficult teenage daughter, Clearfork Academy can provide professional help.
We offer Christ-centered help for adolescents who are experiencing difficulties - anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, as well as treatment for substance abuse.
With a new campus dedicated solely to our female clients in Cleburne, Texas, we can provide expert help for your daughter in a home-like atmosphere of trust and safety.
To find out more about how we can provide expert help and support for your family in dealing with difficult teenage daughters, please
Originally from the Saginaw, Eagle Mountain area, Austin Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University in Cleveland, TN and a Master of Arts in Counseling from The Church of God Theological Seminary. He then went on to become a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in the State of Texas.
Austin’s professional history includes both local church ministry and clinical counseling. At a young age, he began serving youth at the local church in various capacities which led to clinical training and education. Austin gained a vast knowledge of mental health disorders while working in state and public mental health hospitals. This is where he was exposed to almost every type of diagnosis and carries this experience into the daily treatment.
Austin’s longtime passion is Clearfork Academy, a christ-centered residential facility focused on mental health and substance abuse. He finds joy and fulfillment working with “difficult” clients that challenge his heart and clinical skill set. It is his hope and desire that each resident that passes through Clearfork Academy will be one step closer to their created design.
Austin’s greatest pleasures in life are being a husband to his wife, and a father to his growing children. He serves at his local church by playing guitar, speaking and helping with tech arts. Austin also enjoys being physically active, reading, woodworking, and music.