By Community Resource Team, Wood’s Homes
It can be difficult for parents to connect with their teen. Many children begin to drift apart from their parents as they become teenagers.
But with the right tools, and with some effort, that gap can be closed.
Here are some tips to help build and strengthen your relationship with your teenager.
- Spend Time Together – Having regularly scheduled time for just you and your teen is important for the relationship. The time does not need to be spent doing expensive or extravagant things. It can be as simple as going for a walk together or playing a board game.
- Teen-Led Activities – Each week ask your teen if you can participate in an activity that they enjoy doing. This shows that you take an interest in what your teen is passionate about – video games, painting, basketball, Instagram, etc.
- Lecture-Free Time – Parents/caregivers are wise and have much to teach their teens about the world. Surprisingly though, our kids don’t always want to hear about it. Have designated times when you, as the parent, do not allow yourself to nag or lecture. Do not tell your teen that you are taking a break from lecturing. When your teen sees that they can spend time with you without being nagged they may be more likely to spend time with you again.
- Be Silly – Adults can be silly too! Don’t be afraid to be a little childish sometimes – laughing with each other can strengthen the relationship. Enjoy being in each other’s company and create memories.
- Be Interested – Try to be as supportive and interested as possible in your teen’s relationships, activities and interests. Ask questions!
- Don’t be “Judgy” – Adding on to showing interest, we want to display as little judgment as possible. For example: “Who did you hang out with at lunch today?” VS. “Did you hang out with that Tommy kid again today?”
- Listening When They’re Ready – Remember to listen to your kids when they want to talk. Parents want to solve their kids’ problems but sometimes they just want you to listen. Don’t force your teen to talk if they are telling you that they aren’t interested but be ready when they are – whether it’s big or small stuff that they want to talk about. If you don’t listen to the little stuff they won’t tell you the big stuff.
- Belonging – It’s important for kids to feel that they belong in the home and having chores/household responsibilities are important ways to support this. Oh yes, they will complain, but the message that we want to send is that they are needed to help the household run smoothly. Turn the music up and do chores together!
- Be Together – Even if everyone is doing different activities – making dinner, doing homework, playing video games – being in close physical proximity can help promote feelings of togetherness.
- It’s Not You, It’s Your Behaviour – When your teen makes a mistake (and, as we all do, they’ll make lots) be sure to differentiate that you are upset about the choice/the behavior and not the teen. For example, “I am disappointed that you chose to take the computer without asking” VS. “You make me so mad! You always take the computer without asking!”
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!
Wood’s Homes is a nationally accredited mental health centre – proudly helping communities for over 100 years. Learn more at woodshomes.ca.