Sunday, September 10, 2017

Four Ways to Improve Difficult Relationships with Youth (guest post)

by Catharine Hannay

This week at the Center for Adolescent Studies blog, I had the opportunity to share my perspective on communicating with 'difficult' teens.  Here's the introduction:  
In retrospect, it wasn’t such a great idea to tell my devout Christian mother I thought I was a pantheist. 
I don’t blame her for freaking out. The poor woman must have imagined me performing Dionysian rituals in the backyard, assisted by our ever-accommodating golden retriever. 
But I do fault her for this: after the initial freak-out, there was no follow-up discussion. She didn’t ask me what I meant or give me any chance to defend myself, just lectured me on what she herself believed and why I was wrong. It was yet more evidence of how ‘difficult’ I was, always saying or doing something to upset her.
When I look back at this incident from my own adolescence, and think about the many adult-teen confrontations I’ve witnessed or heard about in my years as a teacher, one thing is clear. There is quite often a way for the adult to improve the relationship. At minimum, there is almost always something the adult should not do in order to not make the situation any worse!
Here are four suggestions for parents, teachers, and other adults who may be caught in tense relationships with youth.

You can read the full post at:

photo by JÉSHOOTS via


related posts at Mindful Teachers:

How Mindfulness Helps Teens and the Adults Who Care About Them (interview)

The Importance of 'Deep Listening' to Young People

A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents (recommended book)

guest posts by Catharine Hannay at the Center for Adolescent Studies blog:

Add a Culturally-Aware Lens to Your Trauma-Informed Toolkit

3 Essential Tips for Working with Limited English Proficiency Youth