What to do when your teen wants to dress inappropriately

Best-selling author and neuropyschiatrist Daniel J. Siegel tackles with the commonly asked question, "what do I do when my child wants to dress inappropriately?" Get his expert advice and opinions from this video.
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What to do when your teen wants to dress inappropriately

A lot of parents ask me: "What should I do if my teenager is dressing inappropriately?" And what I say to them is: "What do you mean by inappropriately?" And inevitably they say: "It's too sexual, they are revealing too much of their body, they are looking too much like they're an 18 year old when they're 13." And I say: "I totally respect that, and how is this way of child's dressing affecting your communication with them? Can you just go and say to them: You know something? The way you're dressing is not appropriate for someone your age". Now, if they say that to a 13 year old, the 13 year old, they say: "I'm gonna do it anyway" and then, the question is, what do you do? So, these rules of our parenting are challenging, because it comes to at a time when the adolescent is trying to establish her or his autonomy, establish their own identity, establish their creative way of expressing who they are and so, as a parent, what I suggest you is that go deep inside yourself and ask yourself, is this way that you're calling "inappropriate" really endangering your child, is it creating a kind of interaction with other people, males, females, that would be endangering your child or is it just a look you don't agree with? Now, these days, there is so much messaging from the media that is having girls especially be too sexual, when I'm using too on purpose here, that it is completely understandable that an adolescent would want to do that to fit in, but that you would feel that it's not right. And asserting yourself is just a part of what you need to do; you are not your child's friend, you're your child's parent and sometimes you need to have guidance that includes making an absolute limit about what's permissible or not. So, if your child won't change, you just say: "Well, we're not going out then" and you don't go out, or you don't let your child to go out. So there's certain ways where you're gonna feel a clear decision has to be made. In other cases, you may not agree. You may say: "Well, this is one that's kind of on a fence; it's not about exposing my child to something that's dangerous, it's actually just something I don't approve of, cause I wouldn't wear that myself." And that's the kind of decision that you really need to back off and give your child a space to create his or her own form of expression. This is a tough issue, especially as they get older and go out and consider getting tattoos, earrings, nose rings, lip rings, all sorts of things. If you don't have an adolescent that's that age yet, just get ready and you're gonna need to find a way that communication with your child really clear, so that you establish some really clear rules about that. I remember when our child was 12, she said: "When I'm 30, I'm gonna get out and get my own earrings. " And we laughed and we said: "Ok, well, that's fine". And she said: "Even if you don't want me to." At 30 years of age! Now, it's gonna happen much younger, but negotiating things like that is a part of what the challenge is of being a parent of an adolescent.

Best-selling author and neuropyschiatrist Daniel J. Siegel tackles with the commonly asked question, "what do I do when my child wants to dress inappropriately?" Get his expert advice and opinions from this video.


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Daniel J. Siegel, MD

Neuropsychiatrist, New York Times Bestselling Author, and Mindsight Educator

Daniel J. Siegel received his medical degree from Harvard University and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. He served as a National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow at UCLA, studying family interactions with an emphasis on how attachment experiences influence emotions, behavior, autobiographical memory and narrative.

Dr. Siegel is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and the Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. An award-winning educator, he is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and recipient of several honorary fellowships. Dr. Siegel is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organization, which offers online learning and in-person lectures that focus on how the development of mindsight in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes. His psychotherapy practice includes children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. He serves as the Medical Director of the LifeSpan Learning Institute and on the Advisory Board of the Blue School in New York City, which has built its curriculum around Dr. Siegel’s Mindsight approach.

Dr. Siegel has published extensively for the professional audience. He is the co-editor of the Handbook of Psychiatry and the author of numerous articles, chapters, and the internationally acclaimed text, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are.  This book introduces the field of interpersonal neurobiology, and has been utilized by a number of clinical and research organizations worldwide, including the U.S. Department of Justice, The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, Microsoft and Google. The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are was published in March 2012. Dr. Siegel serves as the Founding Editor for the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which contains over 12 textbooks. The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being  explores the nature of mindful awareness as a process that harnesses the social circuitry of the brain as it promotes mental, physical, and relational health. The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician's Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration explores the application of focusing techniques for the clinician’s own development, as well as their clients' development of mindsight and neural integration. Norton released Dr. Siegel’s the Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind in April 2012.

Dr. Siegel’s book, Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, offers the general reader an in-depth exploration of the power of the mind to integrate the brain and promote well-being. He has written two parenting books, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive with Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. and The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind  with Tina Payne Bryson, PhD., both of which explore the application of the mindsight approach to parenting. Dr. Siegel's latest release is The New York Times bestseller Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain (Tarcher, 2013), which explains how brain development impacts teenagers' behavior and relationships. His next book with Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. is No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind.

Dr. Siegel’s unique ability to make complicated scientific concepts easy to understand and exciting has led him to be invited to address diverse local, national and international groups of mental health professionals, neuroscientists, corporate leaders, educators, parents, public administrators, healthcare providers, policy-makers, and clergy. He has been invited to lecture for the King of Thailand, Pope John Paul II, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Google University, and TEDx. For 2010-2011, Dan is serving as the National Speaker for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Mindfulness and Integrative Medicine Lectures. He lives in Southern California with his family.

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