How Do I Deal With My 16-Year-Old Daughter?

Medically Reviewed on 6/28/2021

Your 16-year-old daughter is becoming more independent. Deal with your 16-year-old daughter by giving her more independence, connecting with her, being emotionally available and using other supportive strategies.
Your 16-year-old daughter is becoming more independent. Deal with your 16-year-old daughter by giving her more independence, connecting with her, being emotionally available and using other supportive strategies.

At 16 years of age, your daughter is putting down roots and growing wings. Her sense of independence has set in. She is also becoming empathetic. Her critical thinking abilities are improving and she can see things from another person’s point of view more easily. At 16 years of age, girls are often busy with their interests and activities. A few common ways to deal with your 16-year-old daughter are

  • Give up more control than you want to. Offer advice, but don't force her to listen to it. Encourage, but don't coerce independence. Every so often reminding her that when she does someday move out, you will miss her a lot.
  • Connect with your daughter at 16 years of age. It may be great to do some things together, such as going to a movie or booking a date for a pedicure or spa. Another great way to connect with your 16-year-old daughter is to eat out with her. You have a longer time when you eat out in a restaurant.
  • If she is involved in a romantic relationship, talk to her about what your values are about sexuality and relationships. You may guide her about safe sex practices. Offer her help as much as possible and make her feel secure. Your 16-year-old really cares about what you think, but she will be making her own sexual choices.
  • Parents should know how to keep a good pulse on their child’s emotions. If your child seems extremely sad or frequently depressed, discuss it with your pediatrician. Their mood problems could contribute to unsafe decisions related to drugs, drinking and sex if left unchecked.
  • You may be tempted to hold your child close because they are near early adulthood. However, parents must take this time to teach their children how to manage independence. Keep the lines of communication wide open so your child can ask questions and receive input about important life decisions. You will be grateful to spend these last few years in relative peace with your teenager before they move out.
  • Allow her to make mistakes and tell her clearly that it is okay to make them. Make her understand that some are more expensive than others. Provide examples, such as unprotected sex, financial mismanagement and not caring about her studies. Most importantly, make yourself available to her whenever she wants to talk.
  • Remember that they are going through profound biological changes and raging hormones that they don't understand or have much control over. They are also slowly separating from their parents and this is a natural, normal occurrence. Don't try to solve all their problems, but try to listen when they come to you and be empathetic and sympathetic.
  • Start communicating, get involved in her life and show support, guidance and your love. Let her know you are there to help her no matter what.
  • Be prepared for and initiate late-night talks. This is when teens really open up. They are more likely to talk about the things that are in their hearts when you go to their bedrooms to catch up with them before they go to sleep. The late time of the night and darker room often set the stage for deeper and more honest talk. Yes, you get tired and it isn’t likely you will do this every night, but you need to deliberately make sure it happens some nights.

It's appropriate for 16-year-olds to be oriented more to their peers than their parents, but kids who are well-grounded in their families will respond well to parents' efforts to stay connected. Also, parents who have bonded adequately with their children at an earlier stage will feel invested enough in their teens to stay connected even if a lot of effort is required. The most effective parenting strategy with teens is to focus on the relationship. Punishment just drives your teen away. Also, it makes it less likely that you will know what is going on in her life, which you need to know to be a good parent. The only leverage you really have with your teen is love.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/28/2021
References
WebMD: "Your Daughter at 16: Milestones." https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/daughter-16-milestones#1

CWLA: "Raising Better Parents: Advice From a 16-Year-Old." https://www.cwla.org/raising-better-parents-advice-from-a-16-year-old/