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Talking to Teens Master Class


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Research Notes

Peer-reviewed journal articles about the 60-minute program for parents that Andy and his colleagues developed can be found here and here.

The information discussed by Ashley Merryman can be found in her book, NurtureShock.

Lesson Recap

Social Norms Theory: the study of how our behavior is influenced by what we think others are doing and thinking.

  • The strongest influence on teen’s drinking behavior is how much they think other teens are drinking and what attitudes they think other teens have about alcohol.
  • Parents are influenced by their normative beliefs as well.
  • Norms influence parents to be less approving and to communicate less about risky behaviors than they would naturally.

Parents need to be clear in their role. This means you can’t try to be your teen’s best friend. You can be friendly but don’t forget your role as a parent.

The┬ámain difference between the roles is that a parent’s job is to instill the proper values. But teens often don’t know what their parents’ values even are. So parents need to focus on communicating their values more clearly.

When it comes to risk-taking behaviors like drinking, drugs, and sex, studies show that teens fare best when parents adopt a no tolerance attitude.

One reason teens are often unclear about their parents’ values is that parents tend to have too many rules. Try simplifying down to 3-5 rules that are phrased in terms of deeper values.

The three steps we covered for maximizing your influence as a parent were:

  1. Be a parent, not a friend
  2. Communicate your values clearly
  3. Don’t have too many rules

Learn More

Do Parents Make Much of a Difference on Teens?

Yes, in this brief clip, persuasion expert Jake Teeny explains that research shows parents do still have a significant impact on teenage behavior.

How Popularity and Social Media Affect the Teenage Brain

The social environment your teen is living in right now is actually creating lasting effects on your teen’s brain. Popularity expert Mitch Prinstein explains these effects in this brief audio clip.

Why Parents Shouldn’t be Friends with Their Teens

Here, bestselling author Bill Deresiewicz discusses the problems that arise when parents are unclear on their role. He agrees that friendship is not an appropriate role for parents to take on.

Being Friends with Your Teen is Nonsense

With a bit of snark, bestselling author Nick Boothman shares his thoughts about being friends with your teenager. He believes that a parent’s role is to instill the value of resourcefulness in kids, not be friends with them.

Instilling Values in Your Teen

In this brief clip, persuasion expert Jake Teeny discusses the ins and outs of instilling values in a teenager. The problem, he explains, is that you don’t necessarily know how the values are going to manifest themselves.

Don’t Over-Explain – Your Teen is Going to Be Angry

Joani Geltman, bestselling author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens, says that one reason teens are often confused about parents’ values is that parents tend to over-explain things rather than just “putting the period at the end of the sentence”.

Phrase Your Rules in Terms of Affirmations, Not Negations

The way your phrase your rules is very important if you want your teen to actually follow them. In this clip, persuasion expert Jake Teeny explains the research on affirmations versus negations.