“ Stop cutting school and start doing your homework!”

“You’re so disrespectful, I can’t believe you talk to me that way!”

“Pick up your room! It looks like a disaster area!”

“Lies, lies, lies! That’s all I hear coming out of your mouth! When are you going to start telling the truth?”

Do these types of parental proclamations sound familiar? They are declared thousands of times every day throughout the land, and they usually do not result in the desired change. Many teens automatically reject parental injunctions to change. Teens are motivated by a variety of needs, emotions, and defenses that are often immune to the logic presented by their parents and other adults-- including therapists. Teens often need to “save face”, and feel like they are shamefully submitting if they change too directly in response to adult suggestions and demands. Teens prefer to make changes privately, when adults are not  looking or  commenting, so that they can feel it is THEIR change rather than an act of compliance with  an authority. These principles inform my work with teens and their parents. You are encouraged to read the books listed below to gain a better sense of how to put these concepts into practice!

For Dr. Bonner's PowerPoint presentation on "Connecting with Teens' Inner Adult: Guidelines for Parents and Teachers"-- Download

For parents:

Allen, J. & Allen, C.W. (2009) Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old. Ballantine Books (for Dr. Bonner's book review, click

Allen, J. & Allen, C.W. (2010) The Big Wait. In Educational Leadership, September 2010, Vol. 68, No. 1, p. 22-26. (to download, click

Bayard, R.T. & Bayard, J. (1986) How to deal with your acting up teenager: Practical help for desperate parents. M. Evans & Co.

Edgette, J.S. (2002). Stop negotiating with your teen: Strategies for parenting your angry, manipulative, moody, or depressed adolescent. Perigee Trade

Epstein, R. (2010) Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence (2nd edition of The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, 2007). Linden Publishing.

Gottlieb, L. (2011) How to land your kid in therapy. In The Atlantic, July/August (for web version, click
here )

Hoffman, J. (2014)  Cool at 13, Adrift at 23.  New York Times,
June 23, 2014

For therapists:

Bonner, C. (2009) The Element of Surprisein Coherence Therapy with Teens.

Unpublished chapter (18 pages)-- focuses on the treatment of academic procrastination in a high school student; integrates Edgette's parenting perspective with
Coherence Therapy.  Download PDF here

Edgette, J.S. (2006). Adolescent therapy that really works: Helping kids who never asked for it in the first place. New York: Norton Professional Books (originally published in 2001 as Candor, connection, and enterprise in adolescent therapy, by W. W. Norton & Company)

Charles Bonner, Ph.D. PA. Lic. PS-007719-L
5873 Forbes Avenue  Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 422-9160 ext. 2   FAX: (412) 422-8180

Email Dr. Bonner

Emergencies in Allegheny County:
Resolve Crisis Network 888-796-8226

Parenting Teens

Dr. Charles Bonner - Clinical Psychologist - Private Practice
Creative Solutions for Common Problems