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Unhappy Teenagers: A Way for Parents and Teachers to Reach Them Hardcover – April 30, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Glasser, a psychiatrist and the author of Choice Theory (1998), offers advice on how to apply that theory to dysfunctional relationships between parents and troubled teens, noting that while parents can't control the child's actions, they can control their own. By disconnecting from knee-jerk reactions, parents can regain control of the relationship and help their teen through crisis periods. Glasser outlines seven deadly habits many parents practice in reaction to teens: criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and rewarding to control. He offers examples from his practice, re-creating conversations with parents and teens to demonstrate a range of problems--disrespect toward parents, failure in school, risky behavior with sex and drugs--and how parents can apply choice theory in dealing with the teen. The therapy is not a cure-all, and Glasser concedes that what he advises is often contrary to commonsense responses. Parents need to change patterns that seem natural but don't yield positive results, for example, continued lecturing and escalating restrictions. A helpful resource for parents looking for a fresh approach. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

William Glasser, M.D., is a world-renowned psychiatrist who lectures widely. His numerous books have sold 1.7 million copies, and he has trained thousands of counselors in his Choice Theory and Reality Therapy approaches. He is also the president of the William Glasser Institute in Los Angeles.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCol; 1 edition (May 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060007982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060007980
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are the parent of a teen who is having developmental problems of any sort, then you need this book. This book takes the essence of Choice Theory and applies it to the relationship between teens and their parents. The book consists of a number of case studies featuring the stories of typical young adults with all different sorts of problems ranging from anorexia to poor performance in school. As he is relating the story behind each case, the author will frequently turn to a brief discussion of various facets of his Choice Theory and how they apply to the case at hand.

Glasser's enlightened discussion of the Quality World concept of Choice Theory is central to the book, and how this applies to the teen's relationship with his/her parents. Coupled with this are discussions of the concepts of control and choice. Relinquishing one's control over a teen, and gently guiding them toward making better choices is another common theme running through these case studies.

My advice is, if you have a teen, or young adult, and you are experiencing some turbulence (and who does not?), buy this book, read it, underline the passages that strike you as most important (there are many), then keep this book at your side, within reaching distance, as you navigate these years. It is well worth it to be able to reach for this book in times of trouble, when your relationship with your teen or young adult seems to be deteriorating, to open a page at random, and just read. Very often, you will encounter an extremely important insight that can guide you forward.

Thank you Dr. Glasser for helping us parents to understand that the relationship is everything.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Americans buy into a lot of myths about accountability and consequences. Negative reinforcement doesn't work on most adults, as evidenced by our ever-growing prison industry and that we aren't all thin and healthy, so why do we think it works on adolescents?

It was difficult at first, but I followed the advice in this book. There were a few steps backwards here and there, but for the most part, following Dr. Glasser's recommendations ended the power-struggles between me and my teen, which swiftly calmed both of us, removed the power-struggles so there was nothing to fight, and resulted in a teen that came home at a decent hour, stopped being as self-destructive, and graduated high school. It also healed our relationship so that it grew back into the strong, loving one we'd had previously.

Read this book, and remember teens yearn for respect and a sense of accomplishment. Negative consequences, threats, and demeaning lectures steal away their positive self-image and creates depressed, angry, self-destructive kids. Now if only public schools would learn that fact about their consumers, their students!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Unhappy Teenagers, William Glasser uses Choice Theory to help families navigate their way through some rather difficult situations. From suicidal thoughts to anorexia, he looks at the problems teens face as issues of control. Choice Theory regards everything we do as a choice, even behaviors we would never want to admit to consciously choosing.

From this vantage point, he encourages parents and counselors to look at the actions teens take as attempts to assert some control over their own lives. Rather than exerting more external control mechanisms, such as punishment and rules, he suggests recognizing that we really can't control other people. In doing so, we can empower teens to recognize the choices they are making and learn how to make choices that better serve them.

Glasser feels that relationships are the fundamental thing. Since we can't control teens when they are out of earshot (or even when they are nearby), we need to control how we treat them, so that they will continue to feel that we are in their corner. By supporting the relationship and our connection with them, we can help them to develop their relationship with their own inner knowing. When they no longer feel that we are against them, they can free up their energy to figure out just exactly what it is that they are for.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a good book that discusses and provides excellent examples of Choice Theory parenting, as well as Choice Theory teaching. For the sake of this review, I am concentrating on the parenting aspects of the book. A few years ago, my son was dating a girl whose parents were very strict. They didn't allow her to do much independently with her friends that wasn't associated with school activities--activities that they usually attended as well. This may sound like a good way to keep their daughter safe and free from the distractions and negative behavior that most parents fear. However, what actually happened is that this girl, who really did want to please her parents for the most part, started to rebel. She wasn't allowed to do many of the things her friends did so she began to lie to her parents to get to do "normal" things. When her friends were having a party that her parents wouldn't approve of, this girl, call her Sarah, would tell her parents that she was staying at Susie's house and Susie would tell her parents that she was staying at Sarah's house and the two girls would be out all night unsupervised and no one knew where they were or what they were doing. This is an incredibly dangerous situation.

I was concerned about Sarah. One day, she saw Unhappy Teenagers: A Way for Parents and Teens to Reach Them on the back seat of my car and asked to borrow it. I let her take it and she loved the book and wanted her mother to read it. She showed her mother the book and her mother was so hurt that she threw the book outside in the yard. She also proclaimed that Dr. Glasser probably never had any children of his own. Well, I wish I could say that this story had a happy ending.
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