Why are Teenagers so Into Social Media?


When teens reach the high school years (ages 14-18), they also reach the stage of development where they start to individuate.  Teens begin to sense that they are different from their parents.  They start wondering Who am I?  Teens start to experiment with values, ideas and beliefs to develop their own identity.  It is during this stage that teens are learning to be their own person.  They what to be autonomous, make decisions for themselves and pursue their own interests.  Teens want to develop  goals for themselves and plan their own lives. This is the time when their emerging identity, image and reputation are very important to them.

Social Media like FACEBOOK gives teens the perfect platform for individuating because Facebook is their own.  They have total control over how they “show up” on Facebook.  They design their own timeline, choose their own “Friend” group and they create their own profile information.


Experimenting with thoughts, ideas or opinions is easy on Facebook. When your teen posts a status or writes a comment on Facebook they get immediate feedback from their Friend group.  If they post a status and no one “likes” it or “comments” on it,  your teen thinks, ”Okay, that was a bust.  I won’t post that again” .  It allows them to test the waters and try new directions.  A good example is when your teen gets a new haircut, they take a picture and posts it on Facebook.  If they get forty-two “Likes” and fifteen comments such as “You look awesome” or “GREAT look”  your teen will go to school on Monday morning feeling good about their choice of hair cut and confident that they like the way they look.  They have been validated and affirmed on Facebook


Are you “Friends” with your teen on Facebook?  If you are, you are probably parenting in a way that validates and affirms your teen.  When you value and appreciate your teen for the unique person that they are, you support his or her quest to become an autonomous, independent individual.


However, if you are not Friends with your teen on Facebook, it does not mean that you are doing something wrong    Mutual trust and respect are paramount to having a good relationship with your teen.  If you are giving your teen the freedom and space to have their privacy on Facebook, that is also good for your teens development.


The key is that you and your teen agree and feel comfortable with your Facebook relationship.  If you or your teen are not comfortable, sit down together and talk about your feelings and together make a plan of how you can reach an agreement about your Facebook status.  Include steps to build mutual trust and respect around Facebook activity.


So remember to support your teen by affirming their uniqueness and validating their quest to develop themselves as individuals.  Foster mutual trust and respect by being sensitive to how and why your teen uses Facebook.


Teen Talk

  Getting Your Teen to Open Up  

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much.”

                                                    – John Wayne


This is great advice for parents when they talk to their teenagers!  Teens have their heads full of opinions — from their parents, their teachers, their peers, the media.  It seems like someone is telling them what to think, what to do, what to say, a l l  d a y  l o n g.  Often teens deal with “opinion overload”.  If you want your son or daughter to be open with you, silence may be golden!

Let your teenager talk about their thoughts and feelings without interrupting them with your opinion.  It is important to hear them out.  Look at it this way, when your teen comes to you to talk about something that seems important to them, envision them in a spotlight.  As long as they are in the spotlight, they are willing to express themselves, openly and honestly.

Your job is to keep the spotlight on them so they will keep talking. You can keep the spotlight on them by  staying focused on what he or she is saying. What are they trying to tell you?  What is in their head or heart?

Often, when our teens talk to us about a problem or difficult situation, we respond with something we think will be helpful.  We try to fix things by telling them that they shouldn’t feel that way or things will get better.  We try to give them possible solutions or we try to tell them where they went wrong in the hope that such insight will comfort or enlighten them.

 However, all of these responses are — your opinion.  When you start talking about your opinion, you move the spotlight off your teen and put the spotlight on yourself.  Now, the conversation is about you, not about them.  They can sense this shift and it can cause them to get defensive or shut down. The way to keep the spotlight on your teen is to LISTEN using passive and reflective listening.

Passive listening is simply acknowledging that you are listening using verbal or non-verbal cues.  Give your son or daughter your full attention, nodding or saying ”uh huh”, “go on”, or “yes”, for example.  Do not drive the conversation, but rather let things unfold at your teen’s pace.  If there is a little awkward silence, that’s fine.  The stuff in their head is not silent.  Give them time to formulate what they are thinking or feeling.

Reflective listening is when you verbally confirm that you are understanding what your teen is saying by using empathetic statements or clarifying questions. Empathetic statements like  “That must have hurt” or “No wonder you were mad”, lets your teen know that you can understand what they have experienced. By making empathetic statements about what they have just said, you are not only keeping the spotlight on them but you also make that spotlight a little brighter which keeps your teen talking.

Clarifying questions allow you to test your insights to make sure you are understanding what your son or daughter is saying.  You can even repeat what they say or restate it in your own words and follow it with the question “Is that what you mean?”  That way, your teen can correct you if you are getting it wrong.

Here is an example:  Let’s say that you are the parent of Tony.

Fifteen-year-old, Tony comes home from school.  He seems agitated or in a bad mood.

Tony:  “I hate Chemistry.  It is such useless information and it doesn’t make sense.  In fact, I don’t think  I want to even go to college, anymore.  It’s all just a big waste of time.”

Mom: “Wow, you sound frustrated about Chemistry.”  followed by silence.

By saying this, you have told Tony that you have heard him and you are interested in what he has to say.  Let Tony collect his thoughts.  Keep the spotlight on him.   Now is not the time to tell him that he doesn’t study his Chemistry enough or that he has immature ideas about college.  Let him give you his version of the day’s event.

Tony: “Yeah, it’s a crummy class.  The teacher sucks!  I got a D on the test today.”

Don’t steal the spotlight from Tony with a condescending comment like “What do you mean, ‘you got a  D?'”  Don’t talk about his disrespect for his teacher or his bad language.  There is plenty of time to react to those things, later.  Right now, stay focused on keeping the spotlight on Tony.  Continue to listen.   You can respond with a reflective statement.

Mom: “Wow, Tony, that sounds rough.  What grade did you think you were going to get?”

Tony:  “Well, I didn’t think I’d get a D.  The last part of the test was short answers and he didn’t like my answers.”

Mom:  “Were you happy with your answers?”

Tony: “Well, yeah… mostly.”

Mom: “What do you think you did, that the teacher didn’t like your answers?”.

Tony:  I gave my best answers but I left my book in my locker yesterday so the questions on chapter five  were a little sketchy.

Mom:  You didn’t get to read Chapter five.  Is that what you mean?”

Tony:  “I read it this morning before class but I kept getting interrupted and I didn’t have enough time.”

Mom:  Wow, It’s too bad that you left your Chemistry book in your locker yesterday.  Is there anything that you can do about the D now?

When you keep  your teen focused in the spotlight, in this way, he or she will feel understood and respected. Your teen is less likely to get distracted by feeling like he or she has to defend himself or herself against an “unreasonable parent” or try to resist a  controlling, “know-it-all” parent.  It allows your teen to form her or his own opinions and to take responsibility for her or his experiences.  Also, when your son or daughter feels understood and respected, they are more open to hearing your point of view and may even ask you for your opinion!

Delinda Samp ©  Copyright 2012

Teen Talk

Communicating With Your Teen: Don’t Take it Personal

Has your bubbly little girl grown up to be a self-centered, sarcastic teenager?  Has your funny, energetic little boy become a sullen, one word communicator?  You may feel like your teen either shuts down or becomes argumentative within the first five minutes of any conversation.  How do you get your teen to open up to you without he or she becoming defensive or critical?  Although it may seem like an affront, it is not about you.  Don’t take it personal.

As parents, we desire to teach, train, guide and protect our kids and indeed, that is our job.  Our kids have spent their entire life striving to understanding us.  After all, we are the most important and powerful person in their young lives.  But, when our young ones become teenagers, they make a shift from figuring out their world through their parents’ authority, to figuring out who THEY are in this world.  They  no longer want to take their cues from their parents perspective, but rather, they want to see and experience the world so they can develop their own perspective and understand who they are in relation to their family, peers, school and the world around them.

Our kids are very vulnerable during this part of their journey.  We parents are still the most important persons in our teens’ life but they don’t want the pressure of parental power in their face.  Our influence often feels very controlling and our teens are trying to learn how to take control of themselves.

Because our teens are vulnerable and sometimes insecure. They use sarcasm, defensiveness and criticism as a way to cope.  Don’t react in kind.  Counter their sarcasm, defensiveness and criticism with unconditional love. Your teens may act like they don’t want your opinions but they have a deep need to know that you love and accept them, even when they are not being lovable. Simply telling them “I don’t appreciate that tone in you voice, but I love you” and walking away can take the edge off their defensiveness.   The message:  You are important to me and we are going to get through this, together.


Delinda Samp ©  Copyright 2012

Self Talk

Are You a Good Friend to Yourself?

Every waking moment we talk to ourselves about the things we experience. Our self-talk, the thoughts we communicate to ourselves, in turn control the way we feel and act.

-John Lembo

When you talk to yourself,  do you hear the voice of  a harsh inner critic?  What thoughts go through your mind?  Do you focus on your weaknesses and flaws?  Do you “beat yourself up”?  Are you critical or judgemental about what you do and who you are?

Listen to your self-talk.  If your friend spoke to you that way, would you value that friendship?  Would you talk to someone else like that?  If you value being kind to others, then be kind to yourself.

Counteract negative self-talk by advocating for yourself.  Remind yourself about your abilities, skills  and successes.  Tell yourself  things that are loving, positive and realistic like, “I am good enough.” , “I’m getting better every day.” or “Perfection does not exist.“.  Let yourself off the hook.

Be the kind of friend to yourself that you can value!  Embrace and accept yourself as you are today.  Show yourself compassion.  After all, the relationship you have with yourself  is for a lifetime.  Make it a positive alliance!



Delinda Samp ©  Copyright 2012