How to Respond to Your Teenage Daughter's Silent Treatment

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While parents need to make sure a teen daughter stays safe, one of a teen’s biggest challenges is moving toward independence and maturity. If these two goals collide, problems can occur. Teenagers may use a variety of methods to deal with issues and confrontations with parents, a common one being the silent treatment. The right response to silent treatment will help teach your daughter a better way to resolve differences.

  • Communicate your willingness to resolve the issue with your teenager. A teen may often resort to the silent treatment when she feels powerless and wants to put you on the defensive, advises social worker James Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website. Tell your child, “I hear your silence loud and clear, but this isn’t solving our issues. I really want to work this out. When you’re ready to talk, let me know.”

  • Leave your child alone after you tell her that you want to listen and talk. Pressuring your teenager and trying to urge her to talk may give her an inappropriate advantage and a feeling of having too much power in the relationship.

  • Monitor your child’s behavior and actions while she’s feeling angry and frustrated enough to maintain the silent treatment with you. If you’ve prevented her from doing something or having something she wants, her flawed decision-making skills may lead her to make a mistake and do something careless or reckless, advises Michael Riera, author of “Staying Connected to Your Teenager.” She might decide to sneak out if you told her she couldn’t go out or she might defy your authority in some other way.

  • Provide incentive for your daughter to talk. When an unresolved issue simmers, you can motivate her to talk it out with you if you pull the right strings. You might revoke her cell phone privileges or take away another privilege or activity she likes until she sits down with you to talk things over.

  • Keep your cool when you and your teenager do talk. If she gets emotional or loud during the conversation, maintain your own composure to encourage her to do the same. Offer to put off the conversation until she feels more in control. When you do finally talk it out, speak in a respectful and calm manner to provide the proper example for resolving problems, suggests psychologist Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., with the Psychology Today website.

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