TnT 78 What you need to understand about why teens to act the way they do in your classes

Educators that teach teenagers have a unique challenge: their students want the same type of love and praise as before, but now they also want more autonomy. This means that the typical model of teachers setting the rules and students complying becomes more complicated as teenagers begin to question and challenge their teachers. What can new teachers do to ensure that they’re respecting the needs of teenagers while still maintaining a positive learning environment? What should they do when their students begin to push back or become defiant? In today’s episode, Andy Earle from Talking to Teens and I dive into the core motivations of teenage students so that teachers can frame their thinking and policies in a way that doesn’t create more frustration and overwhelm for everyone.

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Today on episode 78, I’m talking to Andy Earle from talkingtoteens.com and the Talk to Teens podcast. Since I’ve already done a couple of episodes dedicated to elementary teachers, I wanted an expert for those of us who teach teenagers. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of what we do in the classroom in terms of policies needs to be appropriate for where our students are developmentally and socially. So I decided to ask Andy to join us and help us frame our students’ actions with the research he’s done on adolescents and teens.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this, but I currently have a teenager in my house. While I’ve always taught seventh graders who happen to be 12-13 year-olds, having my own has been…a journey.

As expected, there was a point where my daughter and I were butting heads. I was getting frustrated with her attitude, and she was annoyed with my bossiness and for being unreasonable. In a way, we were both right.

But I was concerned that we were going to be battling like this all the way through middle school and college, which I really dreaded. I’d been used to being the one person she could talk to, and if we kept on arguing like this, I knew our relationship would be damaged.

So I frantically searched for podcasts – which are my own professional and personal development – and stumbled upon Talking to Teens. You guys, it has been a GODSEND for me. I’ve taken a lot of the advice on the podcast and I have to say that I’ve been able to not only reframe how I perceive her actions but also communicate with my daughter more effectively.

So it dawned on me that I should have Andy come on the podcast to talk about teens. He’s a researcher who studies adolescent behavior and parent-teen communication. His award-winning academic work with Loyola Marymount University’s HeadsUp Research Lab focuses on how parents and educators can positively influence defiant and rebellious teenagers. Raise your hand if you have some of those in your classes!

His findings have been featured on hundreds of websites, TV news stations, and radio programs, including CNN, NPR, and The Huffington Post. He’s the Co-Founder of TalkingtoTeens.com and the host of the Talking to Teens podcast, where he speaks with leading experts from a variety of disciplines about the art and science of parenting teenagers. His widely-anticipated book, Parent Like A Badass, is due out this December. 

So now that you know a bit about Andy, here’s my conversation with him.


Kim  

Andy, I think it’s really interesting that you specialized in researching adolescents and teens. And I even saw that some of your recent research had to do with things like underage drinking. And of course, you know, like, I want to know more about that, because I have a 13 year old. So, just out of curiosity, what drew you to this focus?

Andy  

Well, that’s a good question. I, you know, I feel like, I’ve always been interested in parenting, and kind of, I’ve been really interested in like, how we become who we are, and how we kind of develop our identity. 

And so I guess that just, I feel like a lot of our identity kind of gets formed during adolescence. And as I kind of, you know, went through college and was studying developmental psychology, and kind of just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. There was this lab at our university heads up lab, that studies risk behavior among adolescents. And I just really kind of latched onto that. Because I’d done stuff with, you know, kids in kindergarten, and grade school and studying learning among younger kids, which, which is interesting, too. 

But for me, the period of adolescence specifically is just so interesting, because it’s like the time when so many new possibilities are opening, and your life can go in any direction, and you’re kind of kind of choosing the person that you’re going to be, or making choices that really affect kind of your identity and how you see yourself. So that was fascinating to me. And, you know, a big part of that is risk risk behaviors. And a big part of what we associate with adolescence is this propensity to get engaged in risky behaviors and to do drugs, and to experiment with drinking, and it’s kind of the time of your life, when you’re maybe, you know, thinking about experimenting with those things. 

And when you’re deciding, is that can be part of my identity, you know, am I going to be someone who drinks or someone who doesn’t drink, you know, someone who uses drugs, or someone who doesn’t use drugs, all of these things, kind of are, are forming during that time. So I guess it just like a happy coincidence of getting connected with this lab that happened to be studying those things, and be kind of at the same time realizing that, hey, this is really interesting to me, and how can we design programs that will reach kids, and they know help them to make better choices during this period of their life.

Kim  

To me, as a teacher is also really interesting, which is why I prefer seventh graders, they’re going through this transition from a lot of hand holding and sixth grade. And then in seventh grade, they’re seeming to, to pull away. And you know, a lot of my listeners, they teach at the secondary level. So, you know, dealing with teenagers is constant, and I feel this push and pull with them, in terms of they want their independence, but they still want us to, you know, like bail them out when they get in trouble or ease up on them with consequences. So I’m just curious, from what you’ve learned, what do teenagers want and need from adults?

Andy  

So this kind of goes hand in hand with what I was talking about with just this time of their life, where they’re developing their identity. I think that what they what they want, what they need is to be different, you know, to, to have some help, finding the ways that they’re different, and the ways that they’re unique, and to be affirmed in that. 

And one thing that we do here is kind of try and apply studies and research that happens in academia, to actual parenting, and you know, what you can actually say to adolescence, and so we have parents come to us here, we have this, this company called talking to teens. And they come and have a lot of questions about, hey, why is my teenager doing this? And why are they acting this way? And why are they acting that way. And so we do consulting with people. And we started keeping track of all of the things that that people came in with. And one of the most, the things that parents found most helpful was this article that I written that was based on some research that shows that one of the best things you can do when you’re communicating with a teenager, is figure out what their values are, and frame, whatever you’re saying, in terms of their values. 

And so we kind of just came up with all these different values that teenagers could hold. And we did some research and we looked at the literature, what are you know, just different values, that teenagers had different identities, different things that teenagers could kind of see, see as important or see as part of who they are. And we came up with this whole list of them. And then we started just like sending that list to parents that came in for consulting and having them look at and say, hey, what resonates with you? What do you think, on this list is something that your teenager values. 

And it was interesting, because there were, you know, 10 things on this list. But there were three that kept coming back to us over and over again, as the things that parents said, Oh, yeah, that’s my teenager. That’s what my teenager values. That’s what my teenager needs. And the three things were love, independence, and power. 

As so as we saw this, I kind of it was like too strong of a pattern to ignore Kim, it was like, everybody was saying the same things. And then we started noticing that there were differences between people who came in and they said, hey, my teenager is, you know, lying to me, and they’re sneaking at night. And there, they won’t listen, anything I say, tended to say independence. And people who came in and they said, Oh, my teenagers are manipulative, and we get in arguments all the time. And they really like will challenge me would say power. And people who would come in and say that, you know, they don’t have any problems with their teenager, they’re teenagers, pretty compliant, would say lot. 

And so we started to build out this model, at where every teenager, and really every person has these three kind of core needs, at the core of their being the need for love, the need for independence, and the need for power. But the way I see it is, we kind of all have a different balance of these needs. So some people tend to need independence more, some people need power more, and some people need love more. And, you know, I think it changes across the lifespan. 

So especially in the teenagers that need for independence, the need for power, really start to take over, you know, and as a parent, finding ways to help your teenager get those things, to give those things to your teenager, or to help your teenager find ways to use their, their talents, the things that they’re good at, to fill those needs. And to get the things that they want in life is is to me, one of the most helpful things that you can do.

Kim  

That gives me a lot to think about here. Because, you know, as a teacher, when I translate love, I think that is, you know, like, well, we love our students, but also it reminds me of things like praise. So you know, I know that kids really respond to lots and lots of praise. But sometimes I personally feel like when I praise a student, especially like in the middle school time, it embarrassing some of them, and I want to let them know that they’re doing a good job, and I appreciate what they’re doing without giving them unwanted attention. So what type of praise Do you think they need? And what’s the best way to deliver it when they’re super self-conscious?

Andy  

So how would you connect this to the three core needs? And I would say different, depending on what the kids strongest needed? For a lot of teenagers, you know, for me as a teenager independence, far and away was my strongest needs still is. And so, I will respond really well. If a teacher told me, wow, I had, I’ve been teaching this class for 20 years, I have never seen someone do it that way before that is so unique. And that’s really cool. You know, if they affirmed my independence in some way, and gave me praise, that would, you know, affirm how unique and different I am. Right? 

That would that to be, but to someone, you know, who wants love, it’s more like making them feel like they belong? Wow. I just want to say, the way you contributed that discussion today, was was so cool. And it’s so cool to see that you know, that you’re just diving right in and getting involved and being like a, an integral part of this group and being a part of this team, you know, and that’s really cool to see. Right. So that would be maybe praising them in terms of love. 

Or you could praise them in terms of power and say, Hey, wow, it was really cool to see you just take charge, you know, during that activity, and I’m really, really impressed at your leadership abilities. And kind of the way that I see the see the other kids kind of look up to you a lot. And I just wanted to let you let you know how cool that is.

Kim  

Okay, so reframing it. So I guess I’d have to get to know, I’d have to learn that about my students to and seeing what they really need and what they respond to. But I like how you’re, you’re responding. Based on what they’re doing. It sounds like for more like independence and power and, and for love, it sounds like on a deeper level, like you’re praising also who they are.

Andy  

And affirming that they belong, you know, affirming, that they kind of have a role and that they’re valued, and that they’re, you know, a part of the group, I think is that’s what, you know, we all want all these things. So I don’t make it sound like oh, some people only want independence. And some only want love, I mean, we’ll need to feel like we belong. But just for some people, it’s stronger. 

For some people, they would rather feel like they belong, then feel like they’re, you know, unique and don’t need anybody, right? Some people would rather feel like, Hey, I’m totally independent and cool. And then you know, they also want to belong to, but that’s kind of secondary. So I think if we can kind of tune if you know, as it as a teacher, as a parent, if you can just start to kind of like, pick up on those clues. 

And we have a quiz on our website. You know, it’s it’s free, and it gives you a whole report on you can figure out what your what your teenager’s core needs are, and what’s their strongest need, and what’s their weakest need. And you know, what takes a couple minutes to do. 

But as a, you know, as a parent, as a teacher, you can kind of start to just like, watch for clues, and see. And I think that once you kind of start thinking about this, then it starts to get obvious, you know, you can see like, I see this kids independence get Oh, this kid who’s always acting defined in class and like challenging me, that’s a power kid, right? These kids who kind of like sit in the background are kind of like, a little more like need want my approval and you know, don’t disrupt the class, because they don’t want to have me not approve of them. They’re more love kids, whatever. So you can kind of start to pick up on those clues, I think and then tie the praise into what you see as kind of them meeting.

Kim  

So speaking of power, though, because that kind of made me think about teachers and their need to develop classroom rules in order to maintain order. You know, with the younger kids in elementary, they’ll have rules like keep your hands to your or raise your hand when you need to use the restroom. But I can see how some teenagers could see rules as part of a power struggle. So I’m curious, what kind of classroom rules would work best with teens considering their desire for power or independence or maybe even being treated more like an adult?

Andy  

So this ties into the core needs. And also into all this research by Dan Ariely on the IKEA effect, which basically shows you know, when we feel like we’ve played a part in creating something, we value it a lot more. 

And so, you know, they do these studies with like origami, little folding little birds and stuff, right? And they asked people to kind of estimate how much this thing is worth. And people say, Oh, yeah, it’s worth 50 cents. And then they take another group of people, and they teach them how to fold it themselves, step by step, and the people fold the exact same thing. And then they asked me to estimate how much it’s worth missing. Oh, it’s worth $3 or $4, right? 

We value things way more, if we feel like we kind of contributed to them. And so we, in our research, on adolescent risk taking behaviors, we kind of took this idea. And we applied it to teenagers to giving them feedback on their risk taking behaviors. And what we found is if instead of just saying, Hey, we’re going to give you feedback on your alcohol use, here’s your feedback. If we kind of like had them submit questions and say, hey, what would you be curious about finding out there, they’re curious about how much other kids are drinking, they want to know that. So 30% of the questions that they submitted, were about that. 

So we gave, we were able to give them the exact same feedback, but just let them kind of run the show a little more, and let them kind of feel like it was coming from them. And what we found is, when we looked at the data, it was a lot more impactful, they change their behavior a lot more. And, you know, they paid off attention to the feedback. 

And what I think you could do to apply this in the classroom is, and again, a lot of this stuff is more work, you know, so it’s a lot easier to just say, here’s the rules, follow them, but a lot easier to just say, Hey, here’s the feedback. Here you go. That’s why all the other researchers had done it that way. But what we what we found was, it was a lot more impactful when we kind of did this whole scenario first, and we had them submit the questions and make them feel like they had kind of contributed to it. 

So I think as a teacher, you could do something similar to that. Right? You could have to take the first day of class, and work out the rules with your class. What do you guys want me to do? If someone does this during class? Or someone does that? or someone’s not raising their hand? Or do you even care about raising hands? Do we all just want to shout things out? Do you want to be graded based on participation? Like, I’m open? You know, I want to kind of create this classroom experience with you guys. Let’s have a discussion about it. What do you like about your other classes? What do you not like about your other classes? And how could we kind of create some rules together that we could all agree on? And we can all follow? At what what would you want from me? You know, and, and if we could kind of make those together, that IKEA effect is that if we if the kids feel like they have made the rules, then they’re going to be way more likely to follow them.

Kim  

You know, actually, a lot of teachers do that they have the kids come up with classroom rules. And while others, you know, we we have our own set of rules, but from what I’ve heard, when students develop the rules with the teacher, they kind of end up being the same ones, but they like you said, they kind of feel like there’s more buy in because they thought that they came up with it themselves.

Andy  

Yeah, especially if you talk through it. I mean, because it’s like, what, what positively Are you going to make the rules be that like, oh, everyone just does whatever they want? And that’s just not a productive class, right? I mean, like that, if you if you sit down with them and talk through? Well, so what would be the pros of having there will be that, oh, and what would be the cons? And what if the role was that, you know, you’ll arrive at basically the same general thing as you would have, if you just said, here’s the rules. But, you know, the classes going to feel much more like, Hey, this is ours, you know,

Kim  

On your podcast, you talk a lot about parents setting boundaries, with their, with their child with their teenager and and I started thinking about things like consequences in terms of what actually works, because there comes a point. And I’ve told a lot of teachers about this, if you’re just a mean teacher that yells all the time, then when you are actually upset, it doesn’t affect the students anymore. Because they’ve sort of become anesthetize to that, you know, they they’re just like, well, that’s just your talking voice. So then what I wonder is, how can we give consequences that actually matter? And I don’t mean punishments, but I mean, consequences when they break the rules?

Andy  

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I would just, I mean, I’ll just tie it right back into, on that discussion that we have on the first day class at what, what should the consequences be? What should we do? If someone does x? Was we do someone knows? Why what should we do if someone’s, you know, being disruptive?

Kim 

And I wonder, though, if you’ve experienced anything like this, or had anyone talk to you about this, how do parents feel? Or how do students feel? Or is it effective when we call home? So if we say, you know, I got to call your parents, when they’re getting up into sophomore, junior senior year, is that even something that works for the students or, you know, to help them, I guess, comply or fall in line?

Andy  

Sure, you know, every student is different, I would go back to those core needs, and say, if they’re high in love, then that would maybe be possibly effective. If they’re high independence, that’s going to maybe backfire. If they’re high in power, then that might start a real argument and power struggle. 

In general, I think teens respond really well when you treat them like an adult. And you would never call an adults parents and say, Hey, this is a problem, you would just talk to them about it. Right. So it obviously in certain circumstances, you know, you have to I guess it depends on what the schools policy is. But yeah, I would, I would just always try to first address it with the kid and the teenager, and see, see what you can do you know, because once you call the parents, then that feels like, Hey, you went over my head and like, why don’t you just talk to me about it, and like, what we got to work this out. And then there’s going to be a lot of resentment there. And it’s really going to damage I think your relationship with that student,

Kim  

Something that a teacher who had switched from elementary to eighth grade, something that she had noticed was just how more unmotivated students seem to be in their teenage years. Can you explain that apathy and how we can address that?

Andy  

That’s one of the biggest comments we get from parents, too. My teenager is so lazy, and is checking out and doesn’t do their homework, I can’t get him to get a job, I can’t get him to stop playing video games, I can’t get him to get off the couch, they’re not engaged in anything, it’s driving me crazy, they won’t do your chores will help out on house. They’re completely unmotivated, what do we do? I know, it’s not going to happen for all teenagers. 

But I think this ties into the need for independence, what teenagers are trying to do is form their own identity. And if they feel like you’re trying to push a certain identity on them, and if they’re high independence, they’re going to fiercely resistant. And there’s a whole bunch of studies on this concept called psychological reactants, which is basically just reverse psychology. 

You know, it’s like, if you tell someone to do X, they’re going to resist that, if you if someone feels like their autonomy is being threatened by you, then they’re going to try to do the opposite of whatever you’re suggesting that they do. And for teenagers, it’s, it’s really, really strong, right? 

They’ve got that that need for independence, flares up really strong during the teenage years. And if you’re trying to suggest a certain identity for them, and well, maybe that’s not who I am, that’s not who I want to be right, they’re going to resist it. And so a lot of times that these parents that are, that are having problems with, you know, my teenagers lazy, are parents who are really gogo motivated, right, their parents, like their parents who just I just don’t get it, because in our family, you know, we’re everyone is so much and we’re so we’re such go getters and that’s what I always try to teach my team that you need to be is, you know, you need to be you to be rah, rah rah, go, go go. 

Well, of course, the teenager doesn’t want your identity, they want their own identity. So if the identity that you’re trying to push on them is motivated, motivated, rah, rah, rah, the only option for them is to do the opposite, that there’s no other way for them to differentiate and to become their own person and have their own identity, then to literally just do the opposite of what you’re pushing them to do. And especially if you’re their parent, it’s a really strong drive, right? So the more you say, hey, you’re unmotivated, you’re lazy. Be more like me, right? 

Essentially, the more they’re going to kick it, dig in their heels and kick their feet and say, no, that’s not who I am. You don’t get me, that’s not where I want to be. I don’t want to be you. I don’t want to do that. Right. And so I think the same thing happens with Teachers happens in the classroom.

Kim  

And what do you usually tell the parents in terms of, you know, reframing their mindset or ways that they talk to teenagers, when their own teenager is apathetic or pushing back for independence.

Andy  

I think you just got to stop making them feel like you’re pushing them towards a certain way, you need to make them feel like you really don’t care. You like, what you want most for them is to discover who they are. And for them to be the person that they’re becoming. And if that’s not the same as me, that is totally fine. If you decide you just want to sit on the couch all day and chill. Totally fine, right? You, you need to first teenagers need to feel like they’re completely accepted, and like you understand them, and you get why they want to be the way that they are.

And then you can start to slowly kind of steer them with natural consequences, I think it just comes down to natural consequences, where if they’re going to be lazy and sit on the couch, then they’re probably not gonna have money to do X, Y, Z, or they’re probably, you know, they’re not going to get other some other thing that they may be wanted, because they can’t afford it, or they didn’t hold up their end of the deal that you made, which was you know, if you get A’s, then you get whatever, right? 

I think completely accept them, and you give them love, but you, you know, are firm in whatever the consequences are. And if the consequence is that, you know, they don’t get something that they wanted, then they’re going to maybe learn a lesson. But you’re not going to be like, haha, told you so, you know, you’re gonna be like, Ah, it’s so hard. I hate it when I don’t get the things that I want, you know, I really sucks.

Kim  

So I can just look at a student sitting there. And if they’re not doing their work, they’re slouched in their seat, and I asked them do their work and they don’t, then that natural consequence could be something like, okay, you know, that’s fine. You don’t have to do the work right now. But just understand that you’re going to get a zero for this, but you’re making that choice.

Andy  

Yeah, totally. Hey, bud. I get it. Man. I used to man when I was your age, I used to hate these kind of assignments. Man, I get it. Right, I feel you on this one. And if you want to just sit this one out. Okay, no problem. And, you know, but we as a class member, we set the syllabus. And so this assignment is, you know, we decided as a classes, were going to be worth 5% your grade. 

I don’t care if we get zero for it. I don’t want to force you to do stuff you don’t want to do but I also don’t want to waste your time. Just giving them the autonomy to decide if they want to do it or not, and kind of empathizing with them. I think empathy is really big, if they understand if they feel like you understand how they feel, or they feel like you kind of see them, then they’re more likely to kind of go along, right?

Kim  

Is it the same thing with defiance to like, if you ask them to do something, and they kind of laugh it off with their friends. I’ve heard of teachers in, especially in some tougher classrooms where they’ll say, I need you to sit down, please. And that student will look at their friend across the room. And they all start laughing together and being more disruptive, or, you know, the pretend to stop, but then sneakily do it again? Is it just one of those things where you just have to give them the natural consequences? Or would you talk to them one on one, like, what are they vying for at that point when they’re having that struggle with the teacher?

Andy  

Okay, so what I would say to this is, yes, teenagers have these three core needs love, independence and power, but we also do to adults have them just as much as a teacher you have needs. And if you have a need for power, then you like to be in control of the classroom, and you like everyone to be doing things that they’re supposed to do, like you said, like, what the schedule is like, what this on task, right? 

So if you have a kid who’s high in power, also, then there’s going to be some really strong conflicts when we have a parent of a high power parent and a high power kid, or high power teacher and a high power kid, that is a recipe for some really explosive conflicts. I think you have to be honest with yourself, Why do you care that this student is doing what they’re doing? If they’re not disrupting anybody else? If they’re not, like, stopping other people from being able to learn, then maybe you just let it go, and maybe just, you know, let those natural consequences happen?

Kim  

And would you do the same thing, because with swearing because it’s something that even for me as a parent, like it’s an issue. In fact, my daughter even asked me, you know, how old do I have to be before I can start swimming? And I hear kids starting from seventh grade on, you know, starting to swear. And I’m wondering, what, what is that? Why, what can we as adults do to kind of curb that, especially because it’s obviously not appropriate at school? I kind of don’t care what happens when they leave the school. But you know, what’s, what’s going on with that?

Andy  

We need to come up with a real reason why we care if they’re swearing, and it can’t just be like, because we’re not supposed to. Teenagers just don’t like to go along with rules, if there’s no reason for them, or if they seem pointless. So there’s, I’m sure there’s good reason for not swearing. But if I’m a teenager, and it’s just like, the rule is we don’t swear, then I’m like, well, screw that. I’m aware, you know.

Kim  

So you have a blog, and a podcast, and two books right now. And then you have a third book coming out. So can you tell us more about that?

Andy  

We’ve been doing this podcast now for coming up on two years, is called Talking to Teens. And we interview parenting authors and experts about kind of their special strategies for dealing with teenagers. And then I kind of try and talk them through this stuff from their book, different situations, and really try to get like actionable like exactly what parents can do to handle different situations. 

Because what we found in helping parents out, is that kind of the most helpful thing that parents want, is scripts of just exactly what I could say, if my teenager is doing x, y, z, you know, what, what can I say? And just like, now, I can’t help it. Like, as we’ve been talking for the past hour, I’ve been giving, you know, scripts for Teachers, I would say, hey, you could sit down with a kid and say, This isn’t okay. Right. I’ve been receiving complaints from others. But I’ve been talking and scripts, because what we found is that parents far and away, say that’s the most helpful thing is just like examples of what you could say. 

So once we realized that, I also realized that during a lot of our interviews, there were scripts in there, the experts had said, examples of things you could say, just like we’ve been doing here on this podcast. So what I did was I went back through all of our previous interviews and pulled out everywhere in our hours and hours of interviews that we’ve done all of the different scripts, and I compiled them into a book. 

And so there’s over 200 pages of them every possible situation that you could possibly want to deal with a teenager. And there’s like word for word scripts, of exactly what you could say, different examples. And this is not me making it up. This is from all kinds of different experts all over the world. 

So that’s the first book, it’s, you know, the scripts book, you can find that on our website, talking to teens calm, then then the second one is exercise, because what we also found is, parents, a lot of times have the best intent to apply this stuff. But then they don’t follow through with it. It’s the hardest part is like actually implementing it. So we went through and we found all of the things that people we’re recommending that parents do, and we turn it into an exercise so that you write it down. And then you commit to a day, you know, when are you going to do this with your teenager, and what exactly you’re going to do, and you write that down, and kind of make a commitment to yourself, and then put it into your calendar to just kind of force you to actually follow through. So those books are both available on our website. 

And we have a membership program, which gets you access to the extended cuts of our interviews with parents and also gets you those books for half off. So you can check that out. And like I mentioned, there’s a quiz on our website that will let you kind of discover what your teenagers core needs are based on that coordinates thing. And we’ll give you a a nice little PDF that is all about your teenager and their needs. 

And the new book that’s coming out in December is going to be really excited about it. It’s where you can kind of learn the ins and outs of this core needs theory that I’ve been talking about the three knees and there’s a whole nother aspect to it, which is what your teenagers aptitudes or skills are. And what we found is what teenagers want to do is to fill their needs, using their skills. So once you can know what their needs are, and you can know where their skills are, and you can see where they’re misbehaving or were having problems, then what you can go ahead and do is just find better ways for them to fill their needs, using their skills. And it’s a really cool system, the book is going to be called parent like a badass, and it’s coming out in December.

Kim  

Nice. That sounds awesome kind of a way for parents to figure this out on their own without having to necessarily go to therapy. If they just could reframe it, reframe how their students or their child is behaving, then they could probably communicate better with them. Awesome. Now, if my listeners want to connect with you for more information, where can they find you?

Andy  

So you can find us on Instagram at talkingtoteenspodcast, and we love to hear from people and always I love to hear from parents go just email me Andy@talkingtoteens.com.

Kim  

Well thank you so much, Andy, for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it.

Andy  

Thank you, Kim. This has been a blast. And you know, I hope that some teachers out there find it helpful. I feel like there’s some parallels. So I really hope that it wasn’t a it’s not a waste of people’s time.

Kim  

No, definitely parallels there. Thank you.


I definitely think that Andy’s tapped into a lot of insights about teens that teachers can benefit from. So here are my takeaways.

First, teenagers tend to fall within three categories: a need for love, independence, or power. Their specific need or desire will influence how they interact with adults. So teachers need to observe and try to read their students to figure out what that need is for each student, and they’ll be able to understand what’s motivating that student to behave that way.

Also, autonomy for teens equals buy-in. When you let teens feel like they’re part of the decision-making process or they have some say, they feel respected and more likely to be cooperative. They’re at that point in their lives when they don’t want to be babied and just told what to do because we’re the adults and they’re not.

Finally, treating teens like adults helps teachers maintain relationships with students. But having the freedom to act like an adult also means adult consequences. If they want more freedom, then they have to accept the fact that their teachers aren’t going to bail them out, make excuses for them, or give them multiple passes when they mess up. I can only imagine that the hardest part is letting them make mistakes or fail so that they can learn and grow. But in the long run, they’ll benefit from that experience.

I hope you found this episode useful, especially if you teach teens or have one of your own like I do. If you’re enjoying the show and want to support it, then head over to teachersneedteachers.com/support. For just $5 a month, you can help keep the show alive and running, and as a thank you I’ll give you a shoutout on a future podcast episode and social media, plus I’ll send you some swag.

Thanks again for hanging out with me today, and have a fabulous week!

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