Overnight, an alien crept in to your teen daughter's room and swapped places with her. Or, so it seems. A few weeks ago, she was sweet and even-tempered. Now, she’s moody. Dealing with teen girls is challenging and even the most well-prepared parents become frustrated. Instead of tearing your hair out, learn what to expect, how to handle challenging situations and what you can do to ease the adolescent years in your household.
1. Romantic Relationships
Gone are the days when your little girl thought that boys had cooties. As your teen matures into a young woman, she will take an interest in romantic relationships. Deciding when your teen is old enough to date, monitoring her budding romances and making sure she has appropriate -- and factual -- information on sexual behaviors are key to dealing with adolescent relationships. Between peer pressure and the media, teens often get the wrong message, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website. Set rules you feel comfortable with, such as no one-on-one dating until your daughter is 16. Have an open discussion with her about boys, dating and safe sex. If you think your daughter is too young or not the kind of girl to get sexually involved with a boy, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes in a 2011 survey that 47 percent of all teens stated that they had had previous sexual experience or are currently engaging in sexual experiences.
Romantic relationships aren't the only social issues to be concerned about. Handling friendships with other girls and school cliques is a challenge for many parents. It is not uncommon for teens to develop deeper, more involved friendships. It shouldn't surprise you that your daughter chooses her BFF over you when it comes to emotional support. And however much your teen may want to fit in with a certain group, cliques can have a negative effect, because they are exclusive. The pediatric professionals at the KidsHealth website recommend that parents talk to their teens about cliques, and talk about their own high school experiences, and to put into perspective any baseless rejections. Let your daughter know that her real friends won't reject her for wearing the "wrong" brand of jeans or not having a football-player boyfriend.
When your teen daughter slams her bedroom door in your face or seems sobs uncontrollably for no apparent reason, help her with her often-fluctuating emotions. Hormonal changes can usher in a new set of emotions that make your teen feel on-edge or ultra-sensitive. Instead of brushing off your daughter's overly emotional ways or chastising her for acting out, show compassion and talk things through with her. Act in a sensitive manner and provide your daughter with examples from your own teen years to make her feel better about what she is going through.
4. Risky Behaviors
While some of your teens actions may seem slightly difficult to deal with, risky behaviors can have long-term negative consequences. The CDC's statistics on teen pregnancy show that in 2011 alone more than 329,700 teens gave birth. Engaging in unsafe sex can result in your daughter becoming one of these statistics, or she might endanger her health by contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Talk to your teen about her options when it comes to birth control, and let her know that abstinence is the only sure-fire method when it comes to preventing pregnancy and STDs. If you don't feel that this is an option, educate her about using condoms to prevent pregnancy and STDs. Another risk-taking behavior that teens may engage in is the use of illegal substances. This includes underage drinking and drug use. Four out of every five young youths over age 12, admit to trying alcohol at least once, according to the AAP. Drinking and drug use can lead to impaired judgment and poor decision-making. Discuss ways to say "No" and the consequences of substance use.
- HealthyChildren.org: Adolescent Sexuality: Talk the Talk Before They Walk the Walk
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention
- KidsHealth: Helping Kids Cope With Cliques
- KidsHealth: Everything You Wanted to Know About Puberty
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Teen Pregnancy
- HealthyChildren.org: Alcohol: The Most Popular Choice
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images