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Quick Tips #8: Overcoming Controlling Behaviour

Question: My teenage daughter told me I'm a control freak, and she's probably right. How can I let go of controlling everything?

That’s a great question, because when teenagers are in the process of growing into themselves, they are finding out who they are and what works and what doesn’t work for them. They are trying to find who they are also in the context of the world.

If your teenage daughter feels like you are a control freak, there could be a couple of things happening, to make her feel that way:

  • Is she trying to find herself and her place in the world?

  • Does she feel the need to be able to express herself or what she is discovering about herself freely?

  • Are you still used to her being your little girl and trying to keep her as the little girl that she always was?

  • Maybe you use control as a way to protect her?

I would rephrase your question and ask how you can let go of controlling things that you don’t need to control.

This child, this teenager, is still under your care, meaning that you do have to control certain things to some degree. The female brain doesn’t really mature until the late twenties. Up until then, especially in teenage years, they are likely to do things that could be harmful for them or not appropriate. In this case there are probably things that you should be a little bit controlling about. Let’s look at how to let go of things you don’t need to control.

Step One: List all the things that she is saying or accusing of you being controlling. Write them down.

Step Two: Think about which of them you still, at this moment, do need to be controlling about. Tick these off.

Step Three: Gently start letting go of those things that are not that important by building and extending trust.

Build the trust gradually according to how your daughter performs in response to the trust that you are extending. There is a book called the Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey, which is a great book in learning to extend trust in situations where it may have been lost.

Another great source for advice about parenting teenagers can be found on Aha! Parenting.

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