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How to Support Your Teenage Daughter When She is Upset: Listen First, Then Ask.

Updated on April 9, 2015

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It's a Tuesday evening, and my daughter just arrived from a friends house, where they had planned an evening of tree decorating and baking pizzas. Oh how I love the holidays!

As soon as she came in the front door I heard her stomp down the hallway towards her room and slam the bedroom door. I went in search of her, only to find her crumpled into a ball, sobbing her poor little heart out. I asked her what was wrong and through her sobs, she managed to snap "I just want to be left alone!" Immediately concerned, I asked the usual questions "did someone hurt you or say something mean to you?" She indicated that was not the problem, "just leave me alone!"

This scenario begs the question that we as parents ask ourselves every day - How do I support my teenager when she is so obviously disturbed? There are so many books and articles available on teenage behavior, written by psychologists, pediatricians, and many other health professionals. They all seem to offer similar advice; make sure to be there for your children, support them in their daily endeavors and future plans, and make sure they are getting adequate rest, and exercise. Be sure they are following a healthy diet too! These are all good things that we can do for ourselves and for each other.

Everyone has different parenting styles. What works for one child might not work for the next. Some parents are overly involved in their children's lives, and demand answers and constant respect. Some parents ignore their children when they misbehave, while others will divert with a treat or fun activity. Because children (and all human beings) are so unique in personality, it makes sense to evaluate each individual based on things like temperament, and level of patience when faced with frustration. It's also important to consider the different ages and stages children may be going through at any given time.

With an upset teenager, large, obscene amounts of drama are often involved. Steam will roll out their ears and horns will grow on their heads (humor helps here, please keep that in mind). Being a teenager is tough, and it is not fun; we've all been there

It's best to approach the teenager from a place of calm, with lots of love and unconditional acceptance. This is all about your attitude as the adult. This approach should get them to at least calm down enough to communicate the issue at hand; after which might be a good time to ask if they would like to talk about how they are feeling, or if they would like your advice. Yes, you read that correctly, I said "ask." Teenagers tend to carry around the attitude that "no one is going to tell me what to do." Asking them if they want to talk gives them a choice. This shows that you not only respect them as individuals, but yourself as well. I don't know about you, but if I'm already upset and someone starts nagging, yelling, or demanding answers, it's rather difficult for me to feel any respect for them at that very moment. Be the adult and be calm! Remember, no one is perfect. Sometimes just providing an ear is good enough while other times the teen may surprise you and ask about similar past experiences you may have had which they can identify with. As long as you remain calm and don't interrogate them, teenagers will usually open up about what is going on.

I want my daughter to feel safe enough to confide in me and ask for advice. I may not be the world's best parent, but if I can accomplish this, then I have given her the tools she needs to have healthy, mutually respectful relationships with those around her.

What happened to her fun evening? I still don't know, but I will do as she asks and just leave her alone for now. I will re-visit the conversation in the morning after a much needed nights sleep has been had and we have picked up some yummy hot chocolate on the drive to school.


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    • smarter4ever profile image

      smarter4ever 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks allnews!

    • profile image

      allnews 6 years ago

      very nice hub

    • thayes12 profile image

      thayes12 6 years ago from Illinois

      This was a great informational article for parents who may be experiencing the same type of situation with their teenager. Great advice. Any advice on tough love and being able to trust your teenager after repeated numerous trust issues. Seems like a take one step forward with my sixteen year old daughter and five steps back repeatedly.

    • smarter4ever profile image

      smarter4ever 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks All for your kind words!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Excellent advice. Teens respond more to asking than to telling. They need to feel as though they have a certain amount of control. I found also with my daughters that they responded much better when you let them have a little space and thinki8ng time. Very well put. Up and useful.

    • romari profile image

      Rose Maria Rica D. Fuentes 6 years ago from Heaven


    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Excellent hub! I remember those days - I never felt like I could do or say the right thing, and like I was just getting through it. But I guess I did the same thing you did, let her have her space, and discuss it when she is calmer and is willing to talk, so I guess I did okay.

    • smarter4ever profile image

      smarter4ever 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      alphagirl - I almost fell out of my chair from laughing so hard when I read your most recent comment. Thank you for that, I needed to laugh! Thank you so much for reading my hub, and I am excited to see your hubs!

    • alphagirl profile image

      alphagirl 6 years ago from USA

      My teen is like the weather. One minute she is sweet as can be. The next moment I barely know her, she is screaming or mad. I wear a helmet when both teens get their periods. The emotions are high.

      I then instruct hubby to not say a comment to them. That would just feed the flame...

    • laidbacklady profile image

      Linda 6 years ago from Plumsted Township, NJ

      Excellent hub, smarter4ever! I had to read this because lately my 14-year-old daughter has had to deal with a couple of issues between home and school, and things tend to become somewhat intense. She has an independent, yet extremely dramatic personality--which keeps us on our toes around here, to put it mildly!! Thanks for your insight on these teen issues. I don't remember such intensity of emotion when I was her age (what feels like a century ago now!) but it must have been there. Ah, teenagedom. Fun, fun, fun for everyone! Keep up the great hubbing! Voted up, interesting, useful, beautiful and funny!!

    • smarter4ever profile image

      smarter4ever 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      My apologies to anyone if I said good article. I should have said good hub. I need to get used to the language!

    • alphagirl profile image

      alphagirl 6 years ago from USA

      I have a teen and yes, timing is everything. I think sometimes their world is just reeling with frustration and there is so much to to figure out. Lots or emotions. To wait is better than to bombard. Teens need time to reflect and the world we live now gives us ZERO. Yesterday is too late. Good hub!

    • smarter4ever profile image

      smarter4ever 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thank you all for your kind words! I just love my daughter, and want to share my thoughts on what works for me as a parent. I try very hard to remember what worked and what did not when I was her age. That seems to help me more than anything!

      ktrapp, you make an excellent point-be prepared to honor your teens choice.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Excellent advice and welcome to HubPages! What a great Hub, and it's your first. We have three girls under the age of 9, but there will be a time when I will desperately need this advice. The teen years can be so hard for girls and your advice on dealing with this emotional time is wonderful. Thanks!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      This is wonderful advice. I recall times when my daughter had been upset and clearly did not want to talk. I told her if she wanted to talk to me just to get it out, I would listen and not say a single word. But, I also said if she wanted to hear my thoughts afterward I would share them. The choice was hers. She usually talked and then wanted to know what I thought, but when she was ready. If you make this deal, be prepared to honor her choice and not say a word.

      ~very nice hub - voted up and useful~

    • Apryl Schwarz profile image

      Apryl Schwarz 6 years ago from Nebraska

      Fantastic advice for parenting a teen! I only hope I can remember all of this long enough to apply it to my own kids. :) Voted up!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      This is great advice for any parent of a teen. I like that you chose a stance somewhere in the middle: not a demanding role yet not a laid back/leave her alone kind of role. You will give your daughter the choice to speak, and even if she chooses not to at that moment, you still follow up with the situation the next day when things have calmed down. She's lucky to have a mom who cares for her like that! :)

      Great hub. Voted up! Welcome to HubPages!


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