Teenage behaviour management strategies that really work

Parent of a teenager? Expert advice to help you deal with the drama.
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Parenting a teenager can be tough. There’s the attitude, the need for independence, the mood swings… the list goes on.

Leading clinical psychologist, Dr Anna Cohen shares her strategies for raising a teen without losing your mind.

“Adolescence is a period of rapid change, not just for your teenager but also for you as their parent. For some, it is hard to let go of their innocent pre-teen and accept that the family is moving into a new phase,” explains Anna.

“It is so important to remember that it is our child’s job to develop into an independent adult, and it is our job to parent and support them through this process.”

Teenagers can deliberately challenge their parents. Yep, sounds about right. (Image: Getty Images)

Teenagers are desperate for independence and can at times deliberately challenge their parents to see how much they can get away with.

Anna says this behaviour is completely normal. “Your teen is naturally seeking to pull away from you in order to form their own sense of self. Throughout childhood, their identity was merged with yours – so your teen’s move towards independence and self-realisation can be painful, challenging, frustrating and awkward to witness.”

So how do parents cope with their teen’s bad behaviour? “Try to be supportive and refrain from criticising your adolescent as they traverse this bumpy phase,” advises Anna.

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Stop, breathe, respond

Your teen knows you well and as a result, knows how to rile you up. Here’s how to remain calm when you feel like exploding.

“The ‘Stop, breathe, respond’ strategy can be very helpful,” explains Anna. “By practising this approach, you can turn potentially explosive situations into loving ones, and in so doing, successfully establish important boundaries with your teen.”

  1. Pause, and take five slow breaths.

  2. Focus on your out-breath.

  3. Focus your awareness on the quality of each breath (warm, cold, deep, shallow, audible, silent, etc.).

  4. Smile gently and pause for a moment longer.

  5. Ask yourself what you and your adolescent need at this moment.

Taming Teens by Dr Anna Cohen (Hybrid Publishers RRP $29.99) is available for purchase at or at all good book stores nationally.

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