ASK HOLLY: How do I teach my teenage daughter to trust her gut?

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Dear Holly,

How do I get my teenage daughter to listen to her instincts? 

Case in point #1: She has told me someone at school is making her feel uncomfortable. She's a girl in the "friend group" who my daughter is quite convinced is actually talking about her behind her back and trying to undermine her to other friends. My daughter says the girl makes her "feel funny", but she has no proof, the girl denies it, and my daughter doesn't want to make trouble or be rude. 

Case in point #2: My daughter gets the bus to school and has sometimes said she feels a bit unsafe if men she doesn't know sit near her but she doesn't want to make a fuss by moving to the front to be close to the driver. 

In both these instances, I've told her that her gut is trying to tell her something important, and she should listen. She says, "what if my gut is just being a drama queen"! 

Flat Mum.


Dear Flat Mum,

Teenagers are terrifying. They really are. You never know what you're going to get with them. One day, sweetness and light, cuddles and hair-stroking. The next, thunder and lightening, scowls and grunts. A slammed door. Eyes down. 

With such varied internal weather, no wonder it's hard for them, sometimes, to trust anything they're feeling. They might be feeling differently tomorrow. 

But, Flat Mum, I feel you. It feels like the stakes are so high its dizzying, and I've been talking to my teen about trust, so this is a perfect question. We've been doing a "job" together, and it's been a glorious excuse for me to trap her in a car and talk about things I want her to hear. She might roll her eyes, she might get lost in her lip gloss, but I know, somewhere, it's going in. 


We've been filming some content for Bob Jane T-Marts. And we spoke about this very topic in a video you can watch (if you choose to accept) right here. Because here's the thing, I think that knowing when to trust your gut and when to trust an expert (like you would Bob Jane T-Marts with your tyres, see what I did there?) is crucial. 


My daughter loves AFL, and she's about to start a new season, and so I've been using a clumsy sporting analogy when it comes to gut-trust. She always plays better when it's coming from her gut. When she's reacting, not thinking. Moving through what needs to be done, not hesitating and second-guessing. That's a really positive example of gut-trust. Being in your body, feeling the play. 

Holly, and daughter M. Image: Supplied.


I tell her to think about that when it comes to people. Do you feel safe, confident, like you know whatever move you make next will be okay with them? Or do they make you twitchy, uneasy, unsure? Always listen to your gut when it comes to safety, is my mantra. Get up and move away from the person giving you the ick. Preferably far away, and close to someone safe. Up front near the driver, or next to a woman. My daughter has told me, sometimes, that this sounds judgemental, but I also tell her no-one's paying that much attention to things like where teenage girls sit on buses, unless they really shouldn't be.  

But the other lesson I've been going on about is when NOT to trust your gut. For example, our guts do not have medical degrees. They don't know if that bump on our leg is nothing to worry about. They don't know that we need a flu shot this winter. That's expert territory, always. And, of course, so are the tyres (lol).

Your daughter has a great gut, by the sound of it. I doubt very much that the girl she feels funny about in her friend group has her best interests at heart if she's making your daughter feel the way she is. I completely understand her not wanting to cause a fracture in the group — chances are, this girl will do that anyway, in time — but she can listen to her gut and keep her distance. Let her gut's wisdom save her from sharing confidences and handing ammunition to this girl. Just let her feel it out and steer clear. 

I hope this helps. And if it doesn't, definitely trap your daughter in the car with you next time you're going to get your tyres checked. Good luck xxx


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Feature Image: Getty.

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