Why talking to teens can be challenging

Tina Bryson, PhD Psychotherapist and Author, explains the two main reasons why parents and teenagers have trouble communicating with each other
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Why talking to teens can be challenging

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Parents and teenagers have trouble communicating for two main reasons. The first is that teenagers brains work differently than adult brains. In fact, research shows that teenagers misread emotional information all the time, about half the time. As a parent, you might have a headache and hold your head in your hands like this. Your teenager might say, "What? Why are you rolling your eyes at me like that? What did I do?" Actually, they have misread the circumstance. This is a really helpful thing for parents to think about in terms of check in with them. They interpret emotional information differently than we do, in fact, they use a different part of their brain. The other thing to remember is that it is your teenager's whole job to differentiate from you. One of the reason there is so much conflict in the separating and becoming independent; maintaining a "me," while still be connected as a "we," can sometimes be a difficult process.

Tina Bryson, PhD Psychotherapist and Author, explains the two main reasons why parents and teenagers have trouble communicating with each other

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Tina Payne Bryson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Author

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, is a psychotherapist at Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology Associates in Arcadia, California, where she sees children and adolescents, as well as provides parenting consultations. She is the school counselor at St. Marks Episcopal School in Altadena, CA, and a Developmental Consultant to Camp Chippewa for Boys. She speaks to parents, educators, and clinicians all across the country. Dr. Bryson earned her PhD from the University of Southern California, where her research explored attachment science, childrearing theory, and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology. Her best-selling book The Whole-Brain Child (co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel) gives parents practical ways to transform difficult moments into opportunities for children to thrive.  Dr. Bryson has written for a large number of publications, most recently the PBS series “This Emotional Life.”  She lives near Los Angeles with her husband and three children.  

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