Parents should set boundaries that teens must abide by and it's OK for teens to react negatively to the boundaries. "Tough love is actually interpreted by the teen mind as love," Carle says. "In contrast, giving your teen freedom is interpreted as parental disinterest." She warns that sometimes what teenagers say they want – or don't want – is not truly what they want.
Other red flags signaling a problem with coping are signs of drug abuse, continued sleeping and disinterest in things the teen used to love.
Heartbroken teens sometimes lash out when parents try to help. Carle reminds upset teens that parents are on their side and have their health and happiness at heart. When teens tell Carle that their parents are driving them crazy, she has them imagine their parents not caring at all. "Growing up involves making choices," she says. "They can either choose to allow their parents to be their ally – or guardian angel – or their tormentor. Their choice. In reality, who wouldn't want a guardian angel from time to time?"
Teen break-ups can cause heart-wrenching pain, but eventually teenagers should be ready to date again. How can you steer your child toward a healthy relationship? "Teens are likely to meet others like themselves through activities and club meetings," Loudon says. Her daughter's former boyfriend was very active at their YMCA and got her daughter involved in the Leader's Club and the Teen Leader Camp. "I think that a teen with strong self-esteem is going to attract decent friends all around," she says.
Carle tells young girls, "We attract not who we want but who we are. The secret to attracting good guys is to become your own independent person who feels good about who she is and what she's about."
Carle says that before female teens can say, "I love you," they must first say, "I'm an IT girl". What's an IT girl? In Carle s words: "A girl who thinks well of herself, is confident when she is around others and doesn't 'think' but 'knows' that she can hold her own."