Three Ways to Get Your Teen to Take Your Advice
By Andy Earle
Teenagers are notorious for throwing away their parents’ advice like yesterday’s news, but there are a few tactics you can use to work your lessons into their lives. We have three secrets that will make your teenagers actually listen to your advice.
1. Use A Mentor or Friend in Your Place
Our first method is to remove yourself from the equation. Many times, a teenager wants to rebel against their parents to test out their independence and be in charge of their own decision-making, even if you as a parent offer advice that they need. To pass on your lesson, try bringing in some assistance from a close friend or one of your teen’s mentors to deliver the advice in your place. This way, the advice isn’t coming from a force like parents they have to “obey.” Instead, they can experience independence by choosing to accept the advice from someone neutral. If they hear the lesson from someone they trust or look up to, they are more likely to internalize it.
2. Explain That Ignoring Your Advice Enables Continued Mistakes
If your teen won’t follow advice, but they keep asking for your help, you can try this strategy. First, you have to identify that your teen keeps asking for your help to deal with a certain problem, but is not effectively using your advice. When this happens, trying saying, “I’m not going to give you any more help with this because you feel better when I tell you what to do, but don’t make any of the changes I suggest.”
Next you could explain, “I’m enabling you to keep making the mistake, or deal with the same problem.” Finally, you might want to say, “I’m not here to make you feel better about your problem until you can show me that you actually want to use my advice. Otherwise, I’m being a bad parent by telling you everything’s okay and that you can fix it, because it enables you to keep making the same mistake.”
By showing your teen that ignoring your advice is enabling them to keep making the same mistakes, they might recognize that it’s time to take action to solve their problems instead of just talking them out.
3. Show Them Where to Find the Answer
Showing your teen how to arrive at your advice through their own research will help your teen become more self-reliant without feeling like they’re being told what to do. Plus, it will help them see more solutions to a problem, something teens struggle with. To do this, try giving your teen resources online or in person that they can refer to. Avoid providing them with your own advice, but show them where to look so they can arrive at a desired solution.
Similar to having a friend offer the advice in your place, this tip encourages your teen to internalize the advice they seek. By having them do the research on their own, they are actively engaging in learning new advice and might be more likely to incorporate what they learn into their lives. You can still influence their problem solving by guiding them towards books or role models that you approve of, but it’s important to allow them to discover the solution on their own.
We Hope This Helps
These are three great tips to get your teen to take your advice seriously. We hope you can use one or more of these tactics to influence your teen for the better.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.