How To Talk To A Teenage Girl About Her Risky Behaviour

Teenage girls are in new territory - they want and crave attention. It's a parent's job to ensure that they know the difference between good attention and bad.

teenage girls

I’ve got something on my mind that I feel needs addressing. People ask all the time what they would tell their former selves if they could go back. Honestly, my answer was “I don’t know” for a long time until now.

If I could go back in time, I think I’d go to middle school me and tell her that not all attention is good attention. I’ll be honest; I was a terrible pre-teen and teenager. I did a lot of questionable things that led to plenty of negative consequences.

I cared so much about popularity and being liked that I didn’t realize what I was doing negatively affected others around me. So I’m dedicating this post to Josie circa 2007.

Not All Attention is Good Attention

If there were one thing I wish more people would have told me, it’s that not all attention is good attention. Sure, some adults would casually remind me, but always seemed half-hearted.

It’s important to remind your teenage daughters of this and follow through with added encouragement and consequences.

I was never really held accountable for my actions when I was younger, and I think that played a role in my behavior.

How to Encourage Good Attention

As much as you may want your teenager to be kind and polite and not seek out attention, there’s only so much you can do as a parent. Teenagers are naturally stubborn; it just comes with the territory of the age.

If you need a little extra help encouraging good attention, consider adopting these guidelines when parenting your teenager.

Treat Them Like an Adult

In many cases, teenagers will act out because they feel like they aren’t being heard. This is where parenting gets hard because you think they’re ridiculous, but you can’t outright say that without making things worse.

When you’re faced with hard moments like that, sit down together and talk it out. We spend too much time talking at teenagers rather than talking with them.

During these talks, consider these tips for having a conversation:

    • Don’t lecture, talk instead. Having a two-way communication is much more useful than talking at your teen.
    • Don’t attack their stance. As farfetched as their stance on something may be, don’t attack it. Consider things from their point of view before responding.
    • Show respect for their opinion. Your teen is almost an adult; their opinions deserve to be heard and respected.
    • Don’t talk too much. Get to the point and don’t repeat yourself. This will only cause eye-rolls and attitude from your teen.
    • Talk like an adult. Don’t try using the trendy slang your kids are using.
    • Find time to talk every day. It doesn’t need to be a set time, but whenever you both have down time, try to stay up-to-date on what’s going on. You can talk together during small moments like car rides or while you’re eating.

Be the Role Model They Need

Another major piece of advice I have for you is to act how you want your daughter to act. If you’re causing arguments in public for no reason or exhibit other negative behaviors, your daughter will likely follow suit.

She may think it’s ridiculous at first, but chances are she’s been subjected to that behavior for a long time. Without realizing it, those traits are rubbing off on her, and she’ll start to follow suit.

The Golden Rule

Although my daughter is still a decade away from the teen years, we make it a priority to live by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you want others to do unto you,” in our everyday life.

When you treat others kindly, that kindness is more likely to project back onto you. If you want your teenager to get good attention, raise them to be kind and considerate human beings who care about the feelings of others.

This might get difficult though. I like to consider myself a generally kind human being, but as a teen, I was heavily influenced by my peers.

It’s important to practice all of the tips in this article at once, so your influence is stronger than the negative peer pressure.

Introduce Her to Positive Role Models in the Media

Let’s get real for a minute; there are A LOT of negative role models in the media. This can play a significant role in how your daughter acts. See who her role models are and try to gauge whether or not they may be appropriate.

You don’t necessarily need to ban her from following them, but giving her other role models to look up to can help balance things out.

We spend a lot of time introducing our daughter to strong women who have made a difference in society including:

    • Malala Yousafzai, advocate for the education of girls.
    • Jane Goodall, primatologist.
    • Amal Clooney, lawyer who focuses on international law and human rights.
    • Michelle Obama, former first lady, and author.
    • Emma Watson, UN women’s rights ambassador and actress.

Encourage the Good Over the Bad

Raising teenage girls is scary, especially in this age of social media and the constant desire to compete. This can cause an immense amount of pressure on girls to strive for popularity which in turn can have negative consequences.

By encouraging your daughter to have positive role models and taking time to regularly converse together, you’ll have a much easier time steering her away from negative attention.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you practice any of these tips already? Leave more suggestions in the comments so we can help other parents struggling with this phase of parenting.

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Josephine Schreiber
Josie is a freelance writer and the mom behind The Momillennial, a blog she started in 2016. She takes her experiences and writes from the heart. As the quintessential girl mom of a preschooler and another due in June, you can catch her singing Disney princess songs at any given moment. You can check out her blog at