1st Edition

How Do You Hug a Cactus? Reflective Parenting with Teenagers in Mind

By Sheila Redfern Copyright 2024
    322 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    322 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Have you ever wondered what’s going on in your teenager’s mind? This engaging book will give you the tools to understand just that to ultimately help you keep the close connection you both need during these tricky years.

    Following on from her acclaimed book for parents of younger children, Sheila Redfern brings the reflective parenting model to parents of teenagers. Teenagers can be experienced as prickly and hard to get close to – like a cactus – but Dr. Redfern shows us how this stage of your child's life can be more enjoyable and connected than you'd imagined. Rather than focusing on their behaviours, this book emphasises how we can teach teenagers to manage their feelings and relationships in safe ways. It advocates theories underpinning reflective parenting – mentalizing, attachment and neuroscience – as essential for building resilience and security in young people, which is crucial through the storm and stress of adolescence. Chapters are filled with everyday, relatable scenarios and practical advice on pressing issues such as self-harm, social media and gaming, risk and ASD. There is also a chapter devoted to adoptive parents and foster carers.

    This practical guide aims to help readers become more reflective and available as parents and understand what might be in their teenager’s head. It also serves as an essential resource for clinicians working with families.

    1.  Reflective parenting during adolescence: Understanding and nurturing connection  2.  Reflecting on yourself as a parent  3.  Reflecting on your teenager: The parent APP  4.  Autonomy: Your teenager’s need to separate  5.  Autonomy: Your teenager’s social world  6.  Your risky teenager  7.  Understanding self-harm  8.  Using a network of support  9.  Foster carers and adoptive parents: Parenting your teenager who has a history of trauma  10.  Keeping the connection: Navigating the transition to adulthood


    Sheila Redfern, PhD, is a consultant clinical child and adolescent psychologist at Anna Freud, London and the director of Redfern Psychology. She has worked with children, adolescents and their caregivers in mental health settings for thirty years. She is a parent to three boys.

    ‘All parents across all cultures and countries can relate to the challenges in parenting teens. In this clearly written book using everyday language, Sheila Redfern has managed to produce the guide that caregivers have been waiting for. Grounded in evidence-based practice and filled with relatable real-life examples, she provides compassionate guidance for increasing our capacity to understand and respond to our teens’ behaviours. This is a must-read book - not only for parents and caregivers, but also for the professionals who support them.’

    Carla Sharp, PhD, John and Rebecca Moores Professor at University of Houston


    ‘Understanding the neuroscience of the changing teenage brain can really help parents to empathise and connect with their teenage children. Sheila Redfern is an inspirational psychologist with a truly engaging story to tell about parenting, growth and how to nurture the growing teenage brain.’

    Sophie Scott, CBE FBA FMedSci, Professor, Director, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL


    ‘Shepherding a young person through the tumultuous journey of adolescence and early adulthood is arguably the most challenging and emotionally charged responsibility many of us undertake. Redfern brilliantly applies the developmental science of mentalizing - the ability to understand and interpret the thoughts and feelings of young people, as well as recognizing their impact on our own mental states - to construct a powerful and coherent parenting approach. This comes into play especially when dealing with adolescents who seem determined to disrupt any form of such consistency. In this landmark book, Sheila Redfern deploys her remarkable clinical acumen and her innovative model of Reflective Parenting to help navigate this often-daunting task. Redfern’s work brims with practical solutions to the manifold problems parents are likely to face, drawing from her wealth of insight and extensive clinical experience. It’s a book that not only understands the trials and tribulations of raising adolescents but also provides effective strategies to handle them. Whether you're striving to guide a young person as they grapple with the complexities of growing up or seeking to offer the most effective support as they stride into adulthood, this book is a priceless tool. I firmly believe it's the finest guide presently available, offering an enduring and invaluable contribution to the field of parenting adolescents.’

    Peter Fonagy, FMedSci FBA OBE, Professor and Head, Research Department of Clinical, Educational Psychology, University College London: Chief Executive, Anna Freud, London