How to Connect with Your Teen
Between the ages of 13 to 19, a child begins to transition into an adult. It’s a period of growth, changes and very often, confusion. In this time of adolescence, your child might prefer the company of their friends over you, but you will still be an important factor in their lives. Research shows that the strength of the bond between parent and child during this transition period strongly influences their cognitive, social and emotional functioning, which means a lower chance of engaging in high risk behaviour, fewer mental health problems and better social skills and coping strategies.
How does this work? A close relationship means that you are available and responsive, regardless of whether or not you share the same physical space. Here are some ways you can make this happen.
Here are some tips you can try to be more connected to your adolescent:
Correct, Don’t Judge
Mistakes are part of growing up, but your judgement or condemnation will only discourage your teen from trusting you, and make them feel alienated and rebellious. You will be better off telling them that you disagree with the choice they’ve made, why you disagree, what you expect from them in the future and what you hope they’ll learn from this.
Share Your Interests
Indulging together in something you both care about will help bring you closer and make happy memories together. Whether it’s sports, cooking, watching movies or even crafts, a fun activity is a great way to bond.
Your child is just starting to think for themselves and they may not always be ready to listen when you talk. The best option is to be a good role model and always be there for them when they need you. Let them know that if they ever want to talk about anything, you will listen without judgement, and they will learn to follow your example.
It’s much easier to express admiration for the achievements of a younger child, but don’t forget that teenagers need admiration too. They also make an effort to please you or behave in ways that make you proud, even though they might not always admit to it. Each time you appreciate them, it marks an important achievement for them.
Give Them Room To Grow
You don’t have to let your teen run wild, but you don’t have to micromanage every minute of their lives either. Teenagers are discovering themselves and trying out new ideas and behaviours. You have to let them make these choices for themselves so they can grow up to be responsible adults.
Be Friends With Their Friends
Rather than seeing their growing circle of friends as competition, view them as potential friends too. This will help you be more in tune with your child’s world, while also meeting new people and enjoying their friendship.
Arguing Can Also Be Communicating
Every adolescent rebels. Try not to think of your arguments as negative instances but as an equally valid form of communication. Your teenager is trying to express ideas they know you disagree with, ideas they feel so strongly about that they don’t mind fighting for them. This doesn’t mean you should tolerate disrespectful language or behaviour, but try to lead conflict to a more constructive end by acknowledging what they are trying to say.
10 Ways to Stay Connected with Your Adolescent | Psychology Today. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201504/10-ways-stay-connected-your-adolescent
Adolescent-parent attachment: Bonds that support. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724162/
Staying connected with your teenager | Raising Children Network. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/staying_connected_teenagers.html
Nine Keys to Connecting With Your Teen - CBN.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www1.cbn.com/family/nine-keys-to-connecting-with-your-teen
If you, or anyone you know is having trouble connecting with their teen, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. An InnerHour therapist can help you.
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