Teens are Not Problems. Teens Have Problems. 

All across the country teenagers have, or will soon, head back to school. If, like me, you were a teen in the 1980s it can sometimes be hard to separate your own school memories from those of John Hughes’ movies like The Breakfast Club.

The Breakfast Club has stuck with me all these years, not just because I thought Judd Nelson was flippin’ hot (c’mon you guys see it too, right?), but because of the way it so clearly illustrates the damage that labels do to teenagers. Not just labels from other teens and schools, but the labels that we as parents put on our kids.

I was recently lucky enough to give a Tedx talk about this damage. When we label teenagers as “problems,” we fail to see the problems that our teens may be suffering from. This failure to actually see our teenagers and their problems can lead to depression and alienation. Talking with teenagers isn’t easy, but it is doable. I hope that this video gives you some insight into ways you can connect with your teen and help them overcome the damage of labels, especially labels like “difficult” or “problem.”

Obviously, as a behaviorist and a licensed psychotherapist, I’ve moved beyond The Breakfast Club when it comes to understanding the teen mind. But, one of the first steps I ask parents to take is to learn how to empathize with teenagers, to try and remember what it actually felt like to be a teen, and honestly, for me, a taste of corn nuts and Mountain Dew, and a viewing of The Breakfast Club can put me back there.

I hope you’ll take some time out of your day to watch the video and give some thought to how our language and behavior affects our teens.

In the comments below, I'd love to know your thoughts around teens and labels. Do you feel that teens are labeled as problems?

Thank you SO much for watching, commenting and sharing.

If you have friends, fellow parents, educators or colleagues who are committed to helping tweens and teens overcome the labels placed on them, please share this post.

With love and appreciation,