Learning from Mistakes in Teen Development

A lot of parents asked me, like, “What do you mean by safe space? Does your child feel safe sharing with you?” Most parents, we all want to say, “Of course they do. Of course my kids want to talk.” No, not everything. And one of the key things that you brought up several times is the element of being in trouble. Kids don’t want to be in trouble. And I was talking to one of my clients today, and I said, “You know, you’re not supposed to make all the right choices as a child. That’s not your job. You’re supposed to experiment. You’re supposed to get in trouble. You’re supposed to go through all of this, because that’s where you’re going to get the lesson.” If you came to this earth as a baby and you knew it all and you didn’t get in trouble ever, I don’t think you would grow as much as you’re growing. 

So don’t judge if you’re going to be in trouble or not. Own the mistake you make and ask yourself, “What’s the gift?” But that was really hard for some kids. Like, “I don’t know, is there a gift in that?” And now I change it to, “What’s the wisdom?” What’s the wisdom you got from that choice? And let’s take away the good. Let’s take away the bad. We’re not titling it; we’re not judging it. And that itself allows these kids to have that safe space to really share the things that they can’t with their parents. 

I think kids now, in 2024, are in a different mental space. They don’t view sex the way we did. They don’t view drugs the way we did. They don’t view smoking the way we did. These were like three big taboos when we were growing up, which our generation would still want to say taboos, but it’s not anymore. To these kids, sex is not a sacred thing anymore. It’s just not like kids are curious. They want to know about it. Their friends are talking about it, so they’re curious about their body. And now they’re just like, “I’m going to have sex with that guy.” I’m like, “Well, what do you want? Experience? What is it that you really want?” Like, trying to be able to talk to them about it so I at least know that they know how to protect themselves.

Listen to the full episode here:

“Navigating Adolescence: Understanding Emotional Intelligence in Teens” | with Dr. Melanie McNally


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