Taming Your Teen’s Gremlin

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Teenagers | 0 comments

Your daughter has a *Gremlin and you need to know about it. The Gremlin is the name of the negative voice that lives inside her head. Particularly impactful during the teenage years, when self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness are still developing, the teen’s Gremlin introduces thoughts leading to intense feelings of insecurity, doubt, shame, fear, sadness, and anxiety.


When you look at the most common Gremlin thoughts, it’s easy to see why they are so triggering and how they can hold your daughter back from rising to her potential.  Over my decade-long experience coaching teen girls, these teen’s Gremlin thoughts have surfaced repeatedly:

My grades are not good enough. 

I won’t get into a good college and my future will be ruined.

My face is ugly.

Everyone notices my acne and thinks I look disgusting. 

No boy will ever like me.

Everyone’s prettier than me. 

I am the dumbest one in my class. 

My teacher hates me. 

People think I am weird and annoying.

I will be lonely for the rest of high school. 

Everything I say is awkward. 

I am not good enough. 


Imagine your daughter going through her days with these thoughts constantly circulating in her mind! Although you know these thoughts are untrue, her Gremlin has convinced her otherwise.


She needs your help! 


Helping your teen tame her Gremlin begins with knowing what the Gremlin is telling her and then guiding her toward more honest, self-compassionate thoughts.  


Anytime you hear your daughter say something negative about herself, it’s likely a Gremlin thought.  Teach her to challenge the Gremlin by asking her: 


Is that really true about you?

Is there proof this is true? 


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Then, you use these questions to guide her to recognize the impact of these unhelpful and untruthful thoughts: 


How do you feel when you believe these things about yourself? 

How do you show up to your friends? School? Family? Yourself? 

Do you think that is helpful or harmful? 


As she begins to understand that her Gremlin thoughts are lies and only get in her way of feeling and acting her best, you can inquire: 


What is a more kind, helpful, and honest thought? 
What can you focus on instead of these dishonest Gremlin thoughts? 


These conversations will strengthen your daughter’s ability to manage her thoughts and emotions, two fundamental parts of Emotional Intelligence.  You can take it a step further by being intentional with the praise you give your daughter.  Use language that promotes her self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Help her cultivate beliefs in herself that will unlock her potential so she can thrive! 


*Gremlin is a term coined by Rick Carson. I first heard of it through the teachings of Byron Katie.  The steps outlined here are inspired by her teachings and her book, Loving What Is. I modified them for teens.



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