Ep 3: Handling Self-Centered Teenagers

Ep 3: Handling Self-Centered Teenagers

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Episode Summary

Wendy Behary, author of “Disarming the Narcissist” talks about how to deal with a self absorbed teenager. What is the best way for parents to handle self centered teenage problems? One of the big topics covered in this episode is how to tell a self absorbed teenager that something he or she is doing is not OK.

Full Show Notes

Are you dealing with a self absorbed teenager? What is the best way for parents to handle self centered teenage problems?

I interviewed Wendy Behary, one of the leading experts on narcissism, and asked her about exactly this issue. What she came up with blew me away.

One of the big topics covered in this episode is how to tell a self absorbed teenager that something they are doing is not OK. How can you confront a teenager without making them feel like they are being attacked?

Teens have a tendency to turn these kinds of talks into arguments. But as a parent it is important to be able to communicate to teens that they absolutely need to stop behaving in a given way.

An Expert on Self Absorbed Teenager Psychology

Wendy Behary is the ideal individual to teach us how to handle self centered teenage problems. The author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, Wendy is one of the world’s leading authorities on dealing with narcissism.

She taught me a few powerful techniques for telling a self absorbed teenager that his or her actions are not acceptable. My favorite is something she calls “empathic confrontation”.

More Self Centered Teenage Problems…

We also talk about triggering. Wendy says that what initially got her interested in studying narcissism is that she found herself in her therapy practice being triggered by a particularly narcissistic client.

Parents are triggered by their teens’ behavior all the time. It is easy to find yourself yelling at your teen and getting worked up. Wendy explained that these moments when you catch yourself getting triggered are actually important opportunities to help your teen grow.

But you have to know how to respond properly in the moment.

Wendy explains how to do it in this episode.

Parenting Scripts

Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen

1. When your teenager is starting to get hard to deal with during an argument

“We have many dimensions to our personalities. There are sometimes parts that are unruly or nasty. There are parts that can be angry. And I’m not talking about having a multiple personality. I’m talking about just being human. We have many dimensions. You know, I think you have something really important to tell me. And I’d love to hear it. But when that other part of you becomes the spokesperson it’s really hard to hear what the hell you’re trying to say. It just gets all messed up. So maybe you could ask that part of you to just step outside and get out of the way and we could just have a conversation about what it is that’s upsetting you.”

-Wendy Behary

2.  When your teenager starts to piss you off:

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3.  How to hold your teen responsible without blaming them:

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Workbook Exercises

Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview

1.  Use Empathic Confrontation with Your Teenager:

Next time you want to confront your teenager about something, try using Empathic Confrontation. It’s a technique Wendy taught me from Schema Therapy for telling someone they need to change in a loving way. Step 1) Empathize with your teen. Say you get that things are really hard for them right now and you understand they are struggling. Below, write a few sentences in which you empathize with your teenager. Wendy recommends including the phrase “it’s not your fault” during this phase. Step 2) Next, confront your teen about their behavior. Write a few sentences that clearly but empathically tell your teenager they need to make a change. Something like, “But it’s not OK. This is why you’re having problems. It’s your responsibility to make a change.” Try to come up with a version that feels authentic to you. Wendy says the confrontation might be setting a limit, telling the teen their behavior is hurtful, or that they aren’t achieving their own goals. Show them why they need to change. But do it with understanding and love.

2.  Plan Responses for Things that Might “Trigger” You:

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About Wendy Behary

Wendy Behary is the founder and director of The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey and she is also the co-director (with Dr. Jeffrey Young) of The New Jersey-New York City Schema Therapy Institutes. She has been treating clients, training professionals and supervising psychotherapists for more than 20 years.

Wendy is a Founding Fellow and consulting supervisor for The Academy of Cognitive Therapy and she served as President of the Executive Board of the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST) from 2010-2014, where she currently chairs the Brainstorming Sub-Committee.

Disarming the Narcissist, widely considered to be one of the foremost texts on narcissism, has been translated into 10 languages and has received significant praise from the academic community.

As an author and an expert on the subject of narcissism, Wendy lectures both nationally and internationally to professional and general audiences on schema therapy, narcissism, relationships, anger, and dealing with difficult people.

Her private practice is primarily devoted to narcissism, parenting issues, and relationship problems. She is also an expert at coaching individuals in interviewing, public speaking, and other interpersonal skills. Visit Wendy’s website here.