Help - Shes 16 And A Different Person!

By: Christina Botto

Recently a mother approached me; she was very upset. Her daughter, who had just turned 16, was suddenly acting like a different person. Her daughter's circle of friends used to be within the top of the class, now she was spending her time with less successful students. In her opinion, her daughter did not study enough anymore, and her daughter had also said that she was not going to college!

No wonder this mom was upset. Drastic changes like these would overwhelm and worry any parent.

The first thought is always that your teen might have problems adjusting to a change in the household such as someone moving in or out, or a friend or family member being diagnosed with a serious illness. The death of a family member or friend your teen has been close to, even the death of a pet can cause your teen to radically change her behavior pattern. If any of these instances apply, your teen might need counseling to help her deal with the change or loss.

If nothing like that happened watch your teen and her grades for a few weeks. If you are very concerned, meet with her teachers to see if her performance in class has been or is decreasing or if she has problems with a classmate. Ask a guidance counselor at her school about any incidents that might have occurred in school and could be the cause for the change in your teen's behavior.

Pending the lack of any of the above, your teen might just be bored with her life and friends - thus trying new and different things.

Changing friends

Your teen might want to experience what it would be like to hang out with a different set of friends, or she might have encountered activities among her old friends that she does not agree with.

If you approach her in an inquisitive manner she will volunteer further details about her reason to change friends. If you wish to get to know her new friends, ask her to invite some of her new friends to come along next time you go to the beach, the mall, and event or maybe a "girls only" weekend trip. You can also invite her friends and maybe some of the parents for a barbeque in your backyard.

Less studying

You might be under the impression that she is studying less because she is not spending as much time in her room than she used to. At age16 a whole new world opens for your teen. Friends are getting Lerner's permits and Driver's licenses and your teen will spend a lot more time out of the house and with her friends. This in itself is no cause to worry, however, if her grades are dropping, you will need to bring this subject up with her.

"I'm not going to College"

A statement like this can have many meanings. Try to stay calm; instead of getting upset with your teen, ask her for more information. She might have changed her mind about her field of study, or the process of looking for the right college might overwhelm her.

Your teen also could be tired of going to school and studying. Anxiously waiting to graduate High School, the prospect of a minimum of four more years of college could be something your teen is not ready to commit to or does not find appealing at all.

If you find this to be the reason, go through the employment ads with your teen and show her the difference between a salary of a college graduate, and the wages of a sales clerk. Go through the process of estimating monthly expenses with her, including rent and utilities, and weigh all expenses against the prospective income. As all of us prefer a comfortable life style, this might give your teen the necessary motivation to continue.

Her new friends certainly could have influenced your teen. If this is what you suspect, it is even more important that you get to know her friends and their parent's life styles. This will take the guesswork out of your conversations and maybe support your examples.

No matter what the cause, it is important that you talk with your teen. Don't try to force her to do as you say as this will only make her stubborn and pitch you against her.

Instead, stay calm, listen to her reasons and discuss them peacefully. Offer your or a professional's help if she feels overwhelmed, and recognize that your teen might want something different out of life than what you have in mind for her. Use scenarios and examples to make her understand that any actions and decisions she makes now will affect her life and her future.

This article is available for reprint with author's resource box intact and all links live and clickable. Author reserves copyright.


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