You want -- and need -- to give your teenager advice. So what exactly do they need to hear from you? Is there a better way than trying to yell advice in their direction as they're getting out of the car?
Here's what to say and, maybe more important, how to say it to get through to your teen.
1. Stop and think.
Teens are risk-takers, and that's good. They can't grow without trying new things and taking some risks. But they also act on impulse, and the two together can be trouble. Ask your teen to stop and think, says Melisa Holmes, MD, co-founder of Girlology and Guyology, educational programs about adolescent health.
"It takes a conscious effort for teens to learn how to put the brakes on their brain," Holmes says. "The best place to practice is when using social media."
If your teen is thinking about posting a photo or going into an online chat room, urge them to ask themselves: "Why do I want to do this? What risks may be involved? Is it worth it?"
They may not think of using social media as a risky behavior, but like other choices they make, it can have a lasting impact on them. By practicing in one arena, they'll learn to pause to ask the same questions when weighing other choices.
2. Listen to your gut.
Why tell your teen this? Your gut remembers your true self and the guidance of teachers, coaches, parents, or youth leaders. That can help when you’re in a tricky situation or unchartered territory.
Let your teen know you have confidence in them to think for themselves and make solid choices. Tell them that learning to hear their "inner voice" takes practice, but it will guide them well (when you're not there).
3. When you think "everyone is doing it," check the facts.
Your teen may learn that everyone else isn’t doing it -- whether "it" is drinking, having sex, or something else. Finding that out can relieve the peer pressure to do something he or she may not feel ready for.
Take sex as an example. Your teen may think everyone their age is sexually active, but in fact, less than half of U.S. high school students are.
"He may find out that his peers are not really doing it, but they're letting people think they’re doing it while they figure out if it is OK," says Holmes.
4. Decide now when it's OK for you to have sex.
This may sound weird because you probably don’t want to think about your teen having sex, but thinking about it now can make a difference, experts say.
"Teens aren't great at thinking on their feet," Holmes says. When they work out ahead of time how they will turn down drugs, drinking, sex, or other challenges, they are much better at matching their actions with their values.