YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH YOUR TEEN.
However, your teen seems to fight you at every turn.
This is a normal part of the growing up process. It can be frustrating and even hurtful as a parent. Yet, it’s important to learn not to take it personally.
Most importantly, you have to keep making the effort to connect. The alternative would be to give up. Obviously, that’s not a good solution.
You already have a connection with your child from when they were young. Now, your goal is to find new ways to build upon that connection as they grow into young adults.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Think about the little kid who says, “no, Mommy, I’ll do it myself.” They push you away and try to climb up on the swing alone. A few minutes later, they fall down and come crying to you for comfort.
Teenagers aren’t much different. However, their attitudes and emotions make it a little tougher for parents. Plus, their independent behaviors are riskier than falling off of a swing.
Nevertheless, it helps to remember that this teen is still that little kid inside.
You didn’t resent your little one for their efforts. You have to work not to resent your teen either. They may say and do a lot of hurtful things. Try to remember that it isn’t only about you or something you did. Rather, it’s likely about what they’re going through.
3 PRACTICAL WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR TEEN
So, how can you go about connecting with your teen? What do you do when they answer your questions in one-syllable grunts and roll your eyes at everything you say?
1.) MEET THEM WHERE THEY ARE
Let your teen be a teen. Don’t try to force them to engage with you on your terms. Instead, find a way to connect with them that works for them.
This might mean that you text them instead of having deep conversations. Some topics may need face-to-face follow-up. However, it can help your teen to have comfortable channels through which to approach you, even if those aren’t the communication tools that you prefer.
Meeting your teen where they are can also mean that you:
- Ask questions and listening non-judgmentally to any response.
- Take your teen to activities that they enjoy.
- Let your teen choose the music, TV show, or movie for the family (as appropriate).
- Allow your teen to make decisions about clothing, food, and friends (within reason).
2.) FIND NEW WAYS TO SHOW AFFECTION
Parents often miss when their children would seek out big hugs and goodbye kisses. However, it is important to respect a teen’s need for physical space. Their bodies are changing so they may feel uncomfortable with closeness. Plus, they are learning to define their boundaries.
Nevertheless, teens do still need that physical contact. Find what works in your family. One child may still kiss you on the cheek, while another wants no more than a high five.
Don’t get into a power struggle over physical affection. Instead, keep trying different approaches to find out what works with your teen.
3.) LET YOUR TEEN TEACH YOU
One terrific way to bond with your teen is to ask them to teach you something. This shows that you respect their knowledge and interests.
It also shows that you don’t have to hold all of the power in the relationship. Not only does this create a connection, it also helps build their self-esteem.
Teaching can be formal. For example, some families have one day out of the month scheduled for each person to teach the whole family something new.
Alternatively, it can be as informal as asking them to show you how to use a new phone app. Don’t play dumb; genuinely try to learn something new from your teen.
Parenting a teen is hard work. It brings up a lot of emotions and challenges. Find out how teen therapy can help your family through this transition.