Giving Kids Advice: “It’s a Trap!”

Your Kid Doesn’t Really Want Your Advice!

When it comes to giving kids advice it is wise to heed the words of the legendary Admiral Ackbar: “it’’s a trap!” Your teenage son or daughter most likely doesn’’t want to hear what you have to say. And they definitely don’t want to hear how you did it “back in your day.” What teens really want when they come to you in these situations is actually pretty simple. They want to feel “seen,” and for you to validate their feelings.

Good News and Bad News

As parents, we want our kids to learn from our mistakes. We hope they will avoid some of the pain and suffering we went through as a result of our decisions. The bad news is that unfortunately kids need to make their own mistakes just like we did.  The good news is that to effectively support our kids, most of the time all we have to do is shut up and listen, and validate their feelings! Not too hard right?

Speaking of Advice…

Our last piece of advice about giving kids advice is simple: if your kid comes to you appearing seeking advice, say something like- this: “I hear you saying you want advice. Is that what you really want, or do you just want me to listen and understand?” If they say yes, make it short and sweet. Don’t make it a ‘back in my day” style lecture. Most importantly, have zero expectations that they’ll actually follow your advice! If you do all this you can acknowledge their feelings and make them feel  supported so they’ll know they can rely on you for validation and support in the future. 

Break It Down More For Me

We’ll break it down more for you in this Tips on Teens video:

“Hey Kent. My son comes to me to talk about stuff, which is good. Unfortunately it doesn’t always end well. He’ll tell me about something that’s bothering him with his friends (which happens a lot), and I’ll try to relate to him using examples from my own life. I would think this would be helpful, but he’s told me a few times now ‘you always make it about you dad.’ It seems like he wants my opinion, but whenever I give it to him ‘it’s all about me.’ Any suggestions on how I can handle these situations better?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.

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