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When your child is having behavior issues it may feel like disrespect or that you just can’t trust them to make the right choices. I will let you in on a little secret:

It is not about trust or respect, it is all about relationships, your child’s inner experience and brain development.

Babies get a lot of latitude. They cry, poop, tear the house up and parents accept their babies for where they are in their development by redirecting them and setting boundaries.

Parents tend to be accepting of a baby’s current developmental stage.

Something happens as children approach adolescence when caregivers think that their child should just know what do xyz, but what caregivers aren’t considering is that adolescence is a HUGE part of a child’s development and they are basically big toddlers with more sophisticated communication and higher levels of experience.

Humans develop at different rates -environment and experiences play a vital role.

Every human is born with a set of wiring which has a genetic component. The connections in the brain grow like wildfire in the first few years of life and then goes through a pruning process but that does not mean development is over. A child’s brain is always refining and strengthening it’s synaptic connections which is highly dependent upon every aspect of the environment – for better or worse.

It’s not about trust, it’s about connection.

Our development centers around relationships. One function of those relationships is something called co-regulation which happens because of neurons in the human brain called mirror neurons. If you have a teen that is causing mischief, is overly clingy or generally doing behaviors that don’t quite fit their stereotypical developmental stage -get closer to them. The nearness to you will help them regulate themselves through your example.

No explicit teaching required, no classes, no worksheets, just relationship.


Read that again. If your teen is exhibiting some undesirable behaviors setting boundaries is important, spending time is vital but if you are not regulated yourself it will be hard to get the desired effect. If you notice you are not regulated, my advise to you is to seek out a therapist to teach you so you can pass it on.

Remember: Boundaries with connection

Spending time with a teen that you feel like you should not have to is exhausting. Although, it will pay off in the end and rather quickly. Spending time does not mean that you lose your freedom and privacy at all.

Take a big step back from power and control. Set boundaries with your teen, delight in them, truly find time to enjoy their company, focus on connection and conversation. There will come a time when you can step away, slowly, and let them take back the wheel, successfully.