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Adolescents are “hard wired” to seek independence and take risks. And for most parents, this is never more apparent than when everyone is home for the holidays. However, this period of “downtime” is a great opportunity to reconnect with your son or daughter.

To help develop a healthy adolescent who will turn into a physically and emotionally healthy adult, it’s important to transition your approach from an authoritarian parent to a “COACH.”


C       stands for create confidence and competence. Help your teenager believe he or she is a fully capable human being. Listen to their point of view without interrupting. Negotiate instead of fight. Set limits (teens actually want them) and create consequences for negative actions…and move on.

O       stands for observe. Keep up with what your teen is doing, but do it in a respectful way.

A       stands for advise. Help your teen reflect on his or her actions and choices.

C       stands for calmly let them go (the hardest part). Resist the urge to hide your teen from the real world. Let him or her make small mistakes within safe boundaries, then learn from those mistakes.

H       stands for help them debrief their experiences. Help your teen reflect, understand the consequences and learn from their experiences.


Parenting is one of the hardest, most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have. But like a good coach standing on the sidelines, you must keep your eye on the game at all times, be tolerant of a few bumps and bruises along the way, and know when to call a timeout.


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