Conversations About Difficult Teen Issues

Updated on July 05, 2018
J.G. asks from Chicago, IL
14 answers

HI Ladies,

I was looking for some books for my 10 year old to read about self-control and emotional regulation. I found what appears to be an awesome book but it mentions a few things that I'm not sure I'm ready to discuss with my daughter. One of the chapters covers unhealthy ways of coping with emotions, and it specifically mentions cutting. It also mentions drinking and drugs, shop lifting ,etc.

I was ready to give the book to my daughter until I read this chapter. I would hate to introduce things to her that might end up giving her ideas. Of course her response might very well be, "how stupid!" But I'm feeling like it might not really be age appropriate.

So, how have you all tackled tough issues with your kids?

I know it's best to have open and honest discussions, but thus far I've waited for them to bring things up. Yet, the book has so many great things. It has a chapter on being mindful, another on thought and emotions and their relationship, another on attitude and judgmental language. I'd really like to armor her with good coping mechanisms for emotional regulation as we enter the teen years. No one did this for me and I really needed it.

What can I do next?

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answers from New York on

As much as I'm a fan of providing information openly/transparently, I see the problem here - a book that says "some teens cope by cutting...but don't do that!!" is maybe the equivalent of a book on weight loss that says "some people control appetite by smoking cigarettes...but don't do that!!" It really might put ideas into heads, insofar that it is basically suggesting that cutting "works for some people".

If you like the book otherwise, just be prepared to have a good long conversation about it (not a bad idea anyway).

Otherwise, keep looking for a good book that addresses the topics differently.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Books are awesome but experience is the best teacher. Talk about things as they happen, naturally. When she has a hard day at school, talk about it. If she feels slighted by a friend, discuss it. If she was at fault, empathize but make her OWN IT. Nothing builds self esteem like understanding your own power. I found out so much about my daughters' social and emotional lives simply by driving them around (after school, field trips, carpool to gym/soccer/volleyball, etc.) Same with my son and his friends. If I ever overheard anything concerning I would bring it up later, casually, "I noticed Lucy seems mad at Sally, is there something going on there?" As far as self control have you brought this up with her pediatrician? She's ten, not five, she should probably be seeing a therapist if this is an issue, not reading books.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

There's an American Girl "Feelings" book that goes along with their body book for tweens that's not bad. It's pretty age appropriate and just is a good opener for discussions with moms. You might want to try that. It's kind of got places in there for girls to write how they feel, and that and a journal can be a good little gift to add to their book shelf.

I agree - getting into cutting, etc. might be a bit too early.

I just ask my kids - do you feel like talking about such and such. I bring it up. If they say ... well, I do have a question about ... then we talk. If they say "MOM!" I drop it. But once I've said it, they know they can always ask me about it. It's not off limits.

I grew up feeling I couldn't ask anything. I wanted my kids to know I'm cool about them coming to me. They do - often.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Yeah, I'd hold off on having her read that book for about 4 years.
I wouldn't cut the chapter out - because an older teen could understand that info better than a 10 yr old.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

The book sounds great to me!!! You have to start teaching them that stuff earlier now. You’d be surprise in what she probably already knows. The ideas in that chapter don’t sound like anything new, so I think it would be good to have her read it, then sit down & talk to her about the different chapters & make sure she understood it all, or if she has any questions. I have 2 boys that are 10 years apart & I was shocked to find out what my youngest knew, at 9, he knew more than his older bro. He was learning this from classmates. I totally understand not wanting to expose her to that now, but unfortunately we don’t really get to decide when anymore, tv & video games do that instead. I would definitely not wait for her to come to you with theses issues, that is just my opinion. Most kids are too embarrassed to talk to their parents about these issues. Luckily my youngest felt comfortable talking to my oldest, which he turned & alerted me, otherwise I prob wouldn’t have known.

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answers from Seattle on

Ummm....if you think your daughter hasn't been exposed to cutting, drinking, drugs, shoplifting...then you are living under a rock. (ADDED: I just saw another answer that said you should hold off on this book for 4 years. WHAT!? My nephew was cutting when he was 11. My son, 12, has come home from school talking about racism, sexism, bullying, sex, drugs, and alcohol for at LEAST 3 years! He has had questions, based on what other kids are talking about and what he over hears. It's a sad world that we are talking about some of these things so early, but we are. DO NOT WAIT to have these conversations.)
These are ABSOLUTELY things that you start talking about now. Sorry that you are not ready. Time to get ready! You should also be talking about boys, sex, smoking, peer pressure, inappropriate teachers and a whole SLEW of other things that are really uncomfortable!
Have fun!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think it's a tough call. Your first goal is to help her manage her emotions and find a healthy outlet. However, it's worth considering that she probably has friends who are cutting already, and will have more as she gets closer to the teen years. It's always better to know about things from neutral, responsible, accurate sources (like an educated parent) than on the school bus.

So, since you like many things about the book, I would consider buying it and then photocopying the relevant chapters and doling them out, ideally followed by discussion with you. It's not a violation of copyright law to copy something you paid for. Making 25 copies for other kids/parents is another story, of course.

I agree also with the suggestion about cognitive therapy. I have a friend who does this, specializing in adolescents with issues like food aversion and more. So you might seek out a professional opinion and take this out of the mother-daughter realm. You could discuss the book with the professional too after the pro has some idea of what your daughter is thinking and feeling.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would share the book with my daughter. She'll read and you can read parts with her too. I suggest, based on my experience with my daughter and granddaughter that it's best to expose kids to serious issues before they're faced with those issues at school and with friends.

Your daughter will pay attention to that chapter only if she's interested in it. She most likely has heard of some of those issues anyway. The chapter won't give her ideas unless she is at risk for doing them. Kids/people don't cut themselves because they want to try it. They cut themselves because they're emotionally in pain.

Give her the book, talk about the parts you want her to know about. She'll ask about that chapter if she's interested. When we leave out topics, kids then are wondering why and pay more attention to them. She will benefit from the chapters you want her to read. Not giving her the book because of those topics, doesn't allow her to benefit from the rest.

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answers from Washington DC on

books are great and can be helpful. but there are all sorts of topics that are far, far better addressed in conversation, and ongoing ones at that, than by handing over a book.

i think this is one of those cases.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I agree that 10 yo is young and you very well maybe introducing the concept of cutting. You know your daughter best and if you think the subject is a little mature, if I were you, I would simply cut those pages out of the book. You can’t un-ring a bell.

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answers from Miami on

Don't use this book. Find another one.

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answers from New York on

Just want to add, because it seems “some” felt I was suggesting a book as the entire answer (even though I mentioned discussing it with her as well), my daughter and I have ongoing dialogue about her getting older and all the emotions that go with it! I just found the book I suggested to be a great supplement to that and I feel giving my daughter a book to read on the subject really made her feel like a big girl and confirmed all the feelings she is having are completely normal!: My daughter will be 10 soon and I recently got her a book by American Girl. It is called “The Feelings Book - the care and keeping of your emotions”. It is a great, age appropriate book and I think my daughter has definitely found it helpful in dealing with some of the new emotions she is having relating to friendships and getting older. Sometimes we reads it together and sometimes she reads it on her own and we discuss it. Not sure if this is exactly what you are looking for, but go online and check it out!

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answers from New York on

This sounds much too advanced for a 10 yr old girl - and if she is struggling with these issues, she is also likely emotionally immature, making her really far too young for this subject matter.

If you have not explored play therapy or cognitive therapy for your child, please do so, rather than rely on a book or yourself (because you are not a professional in this area and neither am I, so that is why we seek out professional advice/help on things outside of our skill set).

The issue is in practice, any 10 yr old can explain scenarios where self-control and emotional regulation is needed, but often they fail during "crunch time." A book isn't going to teach that skill and if she is lacking it to the point it is being noticed at home/school/by others, it is time to seek professional help.

Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

I think 10 is too young for this book. I found the best method with my boys was to talk to them regularly and bring in issues as they became age appropriate. She is at the prime age for you to make an effort to talk to her often and about issues relevant to her age in very clear language and allow her to ask any questions without judgment. If you do this now, it will be easier and natural for her to talk to you down the road as issues become more difficult and intense to discuss. You want her to feel comfortable with you and never embarrassed. Resources like books or videos are great too, but I feel those are for reinforcement after discussing things and maybe to fill in some gaps that might have been overlooked. Also, never just give her a book without discussing it before and especially after to make sure she understand the topics and to answer any questions. No conversation should be thought of as one-and-done. Think of it as an ongoing project to help her reach adulthood with the best knowledge and tools possible.

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