How to Get Your Teenager to Listen to Your Advice

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How to Get Your Teenager to Listen to Your Advice


Jim Windell


          If you thought living with a toddler was difficult, wait until you have a teenager. Not only don’t they listen to you, but they suddenly know much more than you and if you offer any advice, you either don’t understand or you’re just plain stupid.

All you want to do is make life easier for them or help them avoid the pitfalls of growing up, but they ignore you or outright reject your advice.

          So what’s a beleaguered mom or dad to do?

          Rather than giving up or turning to alcohol, a new study says there may be hope – if you know what to do.

          The study comes out ofThe University of California, Riverside, and included 194 “emerging adults” — those people aged 18 to 25. The sample was overwhelmingly non-white: 38.3% Asian; 33.2% Latino; 10.4% multiracial; 6.7% Middle Eastern; 4.7% Black, and 4.7% white.

          According to Elizabeth Davis, a UCR psychology researcher and the senior author of the study, “Much psychological research has focused on white middle class convenience samples, so diversifying the participant populations we study gives us a much better sense of how psychological phenomena work for everyone.” She also says the results are more broadly generalizable.

          The participants in the study were asked to reflect on occasions when a parent offered advice to help them manage their emotions. Then they completed a survey asking whether the parent interaction was helpful and whether it changed their emotional state. The emerging adults were asked about their ability to cope with the situation and control their emotions, and about their connection with their parents. Finally, the youths were asked if they had sought support, and whether they perceive their parents as supporting their autonomy. 

          Davis says that the results, which were published recently in the journal Emerging Adulthood, found that the youth of autonomy-supporting parents perceived advice they sought from the parent as helpful. But these young adults considered unsolicited advice equally as helpful. Past research has shown that unsolicited advice, generally, is less likely to be perceived as effective.

          “Highly autonomy supporting parents may have increased insight into how to offer unsolicited support and thus do not fall into the trap of giving unwanted support,” the authors wrote in the journal Emerging Adults. They also learned that if the parent was perceived not to support autonomy, unsolicited advice was not viewed as helpful. Unsolicited advice in those circumstances “may be interpreted as less sincere, and thus less effective.”

          The findings build on a body of research that has asserted wide-ranging benefits for children who have autonomy-supporting parents. That includes greater feelings of self-efficacy – the belief that they can handle situations.

          Parents who support their teens’ autonomy usually do so by providing clear guidelines for limitations and rules that will be enforced. They also participate in activities that are interesting to their teens, among other things.

          “These parents consistently acknowledge and validate their child’s feelings, and encourage and support their exploration of different interests as they figure out who they are and what they’ll do with their lives,” says Davis.

          Emerging adulthood, as the authors point out, is a special time during the lifespan when there are new opportunities for freedom and decision-making – as well as still lots of ties to family. “So the way parents support their youth during this transitional phase will set the stage for later adulthood,” says Davis.

          To read the original article, find it with this reference:

Newman, M., & Davis, E. L. (2024). A Helping Hand Isn’t Always So Helpful: Parental Autonomy Support Moderates the Effectiveness of Interpersonal Emotion Regulation for Emerging AdultsEmerging Adulthood12(2), 201-213.


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