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Teenage daughters

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We all know that it’s coming. Yet when puberty finally arrives, it’s somehow no less of a shock to the parental system. Your sweet, pliable little girl has suddenly been replaced by a moody young woman, who won’t be seen with you in public. If that sounds familiar, here are some survival strategies.

Understand what’s going on

It can be surprisingly difficult to remember what your own teenage years were like and how confusing it all was. First, there are the physical changes. Hormones kick in emotionally long before the external signs of puberty appear, and all of these changes are occurring earlier and earlier in  girls. Try to remember that even adult women can find it hard to deal with the impact of hormonal fluctuations, and young girls are less equipped to do so. So no wonder she suddenly seems impossibly moody.Teenage daughters

On top of that, teenage daughters are dealing with a whole host of adult issues. We all know how the media’s representation of women can affect our self-esteem, and your poor daughter is facing that onslaught of impossibly beautiful, ultra-skinny women for the very first time. She is also starting to take an interest in relationships. Even the prettiest of girls can experience painful worry about their appearance at this time. Suddenly, the boys that have been nothing more than slightly annoying mates for so many years have the power to flatten her self-esteem in seconds with a couple of unkind comments on her Facebook profile.

Friends

Friendships, too, can be a source of difficulty. Girls do have a marked tendency to fall in and out with their friends, and you may find  your head spinning as you try to keep up with who is this week’s best friend and worst enemy. There can be bitchiness, gossip and deliberate leaving of each other out amongst groups of girls, and it can be hard for your daughter to get a break from all this intrigue when something is always kicking off on Facebook, Instagram, BBM and the rest.

How to help

So, now your memory is refreshed about what a terrible time adolescence can be, and hopefully you are feeling a little more sympathetic. What else can you do to ensure that your daughter makes it through this time and matures into a stable and healthy young woman, with your relationship with her still intact?

Firstly, start building her self-esteem, preferably well in advance of adolescence, so that she is more confident and better able to withstand the self-doubt which is bound to occur. Ensuring that she feels loved, and remembering to comment positively upon her individual attributes, especially the non-physical ones, will help with her feelings of security and self-esteem.Teenage daughters

Encourage her activities and her school work, too. It can be easy for teenagers to let studies slip, because everything else is so overwhelming. In many peer groups, too, it is decidedly uncool to be clever. Remind her that this is an exciting time, when she will be choosing what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Showing her that you are enthusiastic about helping her to achieve at school, and to make good choices for her GCSE’s, will help her to keep her eye on the ball.

Discipline

This is probably the most vexed question of all. Your word may have been law up to now, but in a few years’ time, your daughter is going to be an independent adult, responsible for her own choices and mistakes. How do the two of you negotiate that transition?

Firstly, recognise that you are going to become increasingly unable to make her do anything that she doesn’t want to do. Dogged insistence on numerous rules will most likely lead to rebellion and a complete breakdown in your relationship.  It is normal for teenagers to rebel, they are establishing their own identity, after all, and you do want her to be able to confide in you when she has problems or makes mistakes.  So accept that your grip must loosen and keep boundaries to a minimum. For those things that you really do feel strongly about, explain your reasons clearly and calmly, and be prepared to discuss and negotiate. Possibly numerous times. ‘Because I said so’ may work with her eight year old brother, but the time for that is long gone with your growing girl.

 

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About Paula Hendry

About Paula Hendry

Paula Hendry is a freelance consultant in the field of social work. She has been a social worker for twenty five years, and specialises in mental health. Paula has two children and writes in her spare time (which is virtually non-existent.)

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