My daughter is 15. Over the past year, she has become very difficult. She lies, plays truant, is always on her phone and maintains a bad set of friends. Every time I’ve confronted her about these issues, she says she’s sorry, but then just carries on! Even taking away her phone hasn’t helped.

I sympathise with you. Teenage years are a time of such fluctuating emotions, it can feel like a minefield for parents. That’s because teenage brains are in their final stage of development before they become fully functioning adults, and this, coupled with those raging hormones, can make the teenager a very unpredictable creature indeed!

What’s vital to remember is that you are important to her, even though at times it probably doesn’t feel that way. Just like when she was younger, you are there to teach her the right way to behave and help her navigate the often confusing pathways that ultimately lead to becoming a successful and responsible adult.

Part of this is understanding how consequences work. 
On the surface, taking away her phone might seem like a good idea, however, it’s like punishment without an end. That can generate more conflict and ever-increasing secrecy, which is something you want to avoid. It’s far better to have structured punishments, which require your daughter to earn back your trust over time, and so earn back her phone. This way, you can show that you can be reasonable even when she is being unreasonable, because this is exactly what being an adult is all about. You are there to be her role model.

The best way to understand what’s going on with your teenager is to sit down and talk openly. Set out very clearly what your expectations are in terms of her behaviour and what the consequences are if she transgresses.

But, most importantly, really listen to what she has to say. You may not agree with her take on the world, but showing her that respect will, in turn, cultivate respect for you.

Have clear and appropriate rules, stand firm when you’re tested and I’m sure when she comes out of this phase, you will have a stronger relationship.