Ways to decrease familial tension

Make a Routine

  • Clearly establish a routine teenagers can rely upon. Dinner time, homework time, quiet time and, most importantly, bedtime.
  • Routines help a teenager reduce anxiety by providing structure and creating a consistent schedule they can rely on at home.
  • Routines help teenagers feel more secure and allows them to develop a sense of control and comfort at home

Work Together

  • Consistency between parents is key. Hearing different messages from each parent is very confusing for teenagers. Demonstrating a united, consistent front helps  minimize splitting between parents and reduces a teen’s anxiety by removing the tendency to attempt to manipulate his/her parents.

Supporting Independence and Self-Reliance

Encourage Independence

  • Encourage your child to try things on his or her own, take measured risks, and do things for him or herself.
  • Encouraging independence does not mean you can’t be supportive, but it means that you shouldn’t take over or do everything for your child.

Avoid Giving Excessive Reassurance

  • Being supportive is key to helping a child feel safe and comfortable. But excessive reassurance can work against your child’s sense of independence and confidence
  • Help your child work through his or her own questions by providing examples of how you overcome problems or challenges.

Consistent Parenting

Give Consequences

  • Set clear expectations and limitations
  • Establish clear consequences for inappropriate behavior (such as losing television privileges for not completing chores). Discuss these consequences in advance with all family members at a calm time.
  • Follow through on consequences.

Be Supportive

  • Remember that adolescence can often be scary, stressful, and intimidating.
  • Remind your child that it’s normal to have fears
    Let your child know that he/she is understood and communicate that you’re open to talk about feelings

Nurturing a sense of self-efficacy

Build Self-Confidence

  • Find opportunities/activities for your child to feel proud of his/her accomplishments.
  • Praise your child by increasing responsibilities or freedom to instill a sense of not only their own capability, but your belief in them.

Set Realistic Expectations

  • Setting expectations is key to reducing a child’s anxiety. Expectations provide a framework for a child to build their sense of safety and stability.
  • Help your child break down goals into smaller steps that he/she can accomplish, always taking steps forward, even if the steps are small.
  • Set high expectations, but let your child go at his/her own pace, making sure to praise accomplishments along the way.

Responding to Stressful Situations


  • Manage reactions to your kid’s stress. Model a calm demeanor, this will reduce the intensity of the moment. Try not to overreact. Remember how difficult adolescence can be and stay rational, calm.
  • Speak in a slow, calm, tone of voice and maintain good eye contact.

Dealing with Reactions

  • Remember to take time for yourself.
  • Even if you’re feeling anxious, tired, or stressed, try to present a calm, united front. Teenagers take cues from parents on how to behave and react to a situation.

Reducing Stress in the Household

Take Risks

  • Trying new things and taking risks help teenagers build confidence and develop necessary skills for their later independence.
  • Encourage your child to try new things and lead by example!

Avoid Avoidance

  • Anxious teenagers tend to want to avoid challenges.
  • Encourage your child to face fears head on by suggesting small steps to accomplish toward a bigger goal

Suggestions on How to Manage Your Own Anxiety

Role confusion

  • A child needs a parent much more than a friend. Successful parents ensure follow through on consequences, are firm and consistent in discipline, and establish clear expectations.

Make room for mistakes

  • Failure is a natural part of adolescence and growing up. If something doesn’t go well for the child, it doesn’t mean you have failed. Rather, watch for ways to turn mistakes into teaching moments. Help your teen develop the ability to learn from mistakes.

The Benefits of Learning the Hard Way

Parent’s feel a visceral drive to protect their children. They do not want them to suffer, HOWEVER, parent’s tend to look upon their kin as being far more fragile than they actually are.

  • However, the experience of overcoming a challenge, solving a problem, or standing against hardship was an invaluable part of your life, and will be just as crucial In your child’s life. Avoid answering every question, solving every problem, worrying every conflict.
  • All teens need the opportunity to discover their own resiliency.

Five Beliefs That Make It Impossible For Parents To Let Go Of Their Anxiety

1. Fear of asking for help

  • Successful parents don’t necessarily depend on others, but great parents are always willing to help out one another.
  • Trade favors with other parents to reduce stress. Offer to help other parents and see that asking for help can go a long way.

2. The need to split time equally

  • A characteristic of successful parenting is the mutual acceptance there will be times when family will need more attention and times when a career will demand more energy. Value each other’s efforts and validate one another’s initiatives.
  • Try to stay flexible and evaluate progress on a regular basis

3. All parents have to neglect themselves

  • Parenting isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Successful parents know that taking care of themselves helps their efficiency and productivity.
  • Find time to exercise, rest, and relax. Being overwhelmed, overtired, or overworked can make it difficult to meet the challenges of parenting head on.

4. Parents should always make their kids happy

  • Parents who achieve a successful work/life balance don’t live and breathe to make their kids happy. Instead, they strive to raise responsible teenagers who will grow up to become responsible adults
  • Successful parents are not their child’s friends, but rather much more. They are role models, educators, and lead by example.

5. Feeling guilty about working

  • Almost all parents face the challenge of supporting their families financially while devoting energy toward parenting.
  • Rather than feeling guilt, focus attention on working with your partner, or any member of your support group, to make a plan to solve the problem.

Additional Resources

This Emotional Life

PBS’ miniseries on emotion and mental health spawned a website that continues the conversation, in addition to a robust resource list searchable by location and topic.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

AACAP’s website has a wealth of information on child and adolescent psychiatric disorders, as well what the organization calls “practice parameters”-a description of best practices that should guide psychiatric diagnosis and treatment for young people in the US. AACAP also allows parents to search its members with its psychiatrist finder.

“To Screen or Not To Screen?”
“The Game is Playing Your Kid Post” published by Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on May 18, 2015 in In Therapy

“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk”
by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. A communication tool kit for parents that emphasizes cooperation and mutual problem-solving; updated.