My Teen Is Breaking Rules - What Can I Do?

We recently moved, and my 16-year-old daughter started at a new school. Lately, she's been ignoring her curfew, and last weekend I smelled alcohol on her breath. What should I do?
Joe

The best thing you can do is to talk to your daughter openly about your concerns. Be blunt, honest, and understanding — and reassure her that you want to know what's going on with her because you care. Discuss your expectations for her, and what the consequences will be if she breaks the rules. Many teens act like they don't need attention from their parents and family, but actually they do.

While one or two behavior glitches can be expected with a major life change, persistent changes in your daughter's behavior, attitude, or interests may mean something more is going on. Alcohol and/or drug use are often linked to depression or to difficult life changes like moving or going through a rough breakup.

If you're still concerned about your daughter's behavior, talk to her doctor or a counselor for advice.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010

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