5 Ways To Reconnect With Your Teen

The teenage years can be frustrating for parents as they remember their young child that wanted to give them hugs and hang out with them but that is not the reality with their teen. And in Simi Valley, this is no different.

Instead, their teen is going through their own tail wind spin of identity development and anxiety to fit in and find themselves. And older children often get so caught up in their own mind. They then become rather distant or conflictual with those closest to them; especially their parents.

Unfortunately, when we get caught up in frustration and overwhelm of parenting teenagers, we end up feeling at a loss of what to make it better.. It affects our lives in numerous ways. We are continually concerned and overwhelmed. There is an uneasiness about the teenage years and whether things are okay..

There are many times where you attempt to get closer to your teen but it is unsuccessful or you are just done with hearing, “you don’t get it.” We know that you want to “get it” if given a chance, but those chances are very few and far between and it feels as though you are screwing it up.

This is very frustrating as you continue to long for a connection but feel that it’s out of your grasp. You may be getting glimpses at times of feeling connected…

But your teen’s interest very soon after goes into overfocus on social media, friends, and what others think of them. You feel that you need to be one step ahead of them. The problem is “how do you know which step you need to take if you don’t know where their mind is?” 

Not only is living within this disconnection or overwhelm affecting you through the distance you are feeling from your teenager but you also see that it is affecting you in other parts of your life. Your concern for your teenager is likely affecting your job, marriage, or relationship with another child. This is making you feel a bit tired, overwhelmed, and eager to find a solution that will help your family.    

happy boy standing near the beach

Perhaps your relationship difficulty with your teen plays out like this:

You come home from a long day of work. You are working on getting homework done for your younger child and starting to get dinner going. Your teenager face times her friend and is not getting her room cleaned or her homework done. She rolls her eyes and says “okay” when you ask her to get it done. The tension is felt when she rolls her eyes but you are so used to it that you just keep on going with what you need to do.

Once dinner is ready you ask for everyone to come to the table. At the dinner table, you ask for all phones to be put away, and no one likes that, but they get it done. You attempt to get a conversation going about everyone’s day but your kids aren’t saying too much. Perhaps they are just pointing out things that went poorly or something that annoyed them. You ask more questions or give some advice, but it doesn’t feel like its really landing well.

At the time it may have felt that there is nothing you can do to improve your relationship with your teenager.

You were likely feeling pretty frustrated, concerned, and maybe even hopeless. Unfortunately all this does is make the problem bigger and less movement to happen towards changing the dynamics and building the relationship.

Eventually,  you wind up in a place of uncertainty of what the future holds, and just hoping that things will get better. But the truth is it’s completely normal to have this up and down or disconnected relationship with your teen. Its OK to admit that you are unsure what to do to make it better.

Many people with teenagers are in the same boat as you and just need some support.

Although it is heartbreaking for parents of teenagers to have this disconnection, there are absolutely strategies to better connect with your teen. When we make more strides to match them where they are, we are much more likely to get to know them and understand what they are going through on a deeper level. As parents, this will give you a lot of reassurance.

Not knowing what is happening is driving you nuts and overwhelming you with the unknown. Plus you are really missing your child and want to feel close again.

two women enjoying and walking on the beach

Keep reading for 5 strategize to reconnect with your anxious or disconnected teen

When you don’t get help to better your relationship with your teen

The biggest downside of not getting help to reconnect with your teen is continuing to not know them. Not knowing what is happening on a deeper level, and if they are okay. Not knowing how they are thinking or what! Having the years go by without feeling close or connected in a way that you would like.

Not making things better also proposes a concern that your teen won’t have a trusted someone to speak with or brainstorm solutions to teenage problems. We all know that teens only talking to other teens isn’t always the best result.   

What things look like once you start to work on your relationship with your teenager

Although you are struggling with your relationship with your teen now, you have the potential to learn how to connect with one another in a way that works. You can also begin to understand your teen so that you can become close again. This will help reduce the overwhelm you are experiencing.

When you choose to make changes and get the help we need, you are choosing to make things better, even though there are some steps to get there.

Being able to know who your teen is and understand what is happening in their mind is such a powerful feeling. Not needing to guess all the time on what they are going though. Feeling that they will sometimes share with you rather than keeping it all in or talking to someone that may not be helping them enough.

Knowing that you are able to get those glimpses of your little one that you were once so close with and thankful to have moments where you feel loved and connected again.

teen sitting outside the house

5 strategies to reconnect with your anxious or depressed teen

NUMBER ONE: You know you have a lot to offer your teen but are feeling that you don’t know how to communicate that. It makes complete sense that you want to share with them all that you know and learned. Of course, you do! You are their parent. But why is it so hard for them to listen?

Strategy: Really get at the level of your teen. What does this mean? As parents, and adults for that matter, we have seen so much, been through so many experiences that it’s hard to allow yourself to be in the moment with your teen. You want to provide them with all that wisdom and for them to learn from all of your hard moments and life lessons.

But the truth is, that they aren’t going to go as fast as you would like. A teenager is stuck in their own troubles in the moment and need you to REALLY get where they are, if they are going to let you in. Don’t jump ahead. Repeat what they say, and ask them “Am I getting it?” Identify how they feel, and ask “is that right?” Make sure to have their buy in before you go onto “advice mode.”

In Teen Therapy, our therapists and psychologists work with families in Simi Valley and neighboring communities on being in the moment with their teen so that they can truly connect and make the moment worth it.

When you do this you will feel more connected to your teen and that you understand them at a deeper level.

NUMBER TWO: You want your teen to feel confident in themselves and you worry that they don’t. You worry that they are stuck in their own self defeat and have seen how this has impacted their connections with you and the rest of the family.

Strategy: Connect with them on something they like or want to do. Let them teach you. Share with you. Without you having too much to say. Just ask questions and listen. Teenagers LOVE to feel that they have something to contribute. Unfortunately they often feel that they don’t have much. They are in the sandwich of life in their minds.

Not being kids anymore,  but yet, also not adults. They don’t have control (although that’s all they say they want) or maturity (even though they may feel that they do) an adult may have. This can leave a teenager feeling confused about their role in society and what they have to offer.

Allow them to offer things to you. And believe us, they do have a lot to offer! For example, how well do you really understand social media today? Wouldn’t it be helpful for them to teach you a thing or two?

Internally you know that understanding social media is helpful to know so you can know what your teen likely does online. But outwardly, it is really interesting and something they can teach you! Allow yourself to get on their level. Let them teach you something they care about where you can really learn.

Here at simi psychological group, we help you and your teen learn from one another. In Teen Therapy we will help find ways to build their confidence and strengthen your relationship with them in the process. 

After you start doing this you will feel that your teen is more animated to connect with you. That you are both looking forward (at least more) to have conversations with one another. You feel relieved and grateful for making this change.

NUMBER THREE: You want so much for your teen to know that you get them. You may not get exactly what they are going through. You do however know what it’s like to feel scared, lonely or worried.

Strategy: Try to allow for your own vulnerability and connect with them without minimizing where they are. We all make mistakes and have difficulties in our lives. When having a good conversation allow yourself to be vulnerable as well. Pick something that you are genuinely going through (and willing to share) and get vulnerable.

This shows them that you really get it thats its hard to let the walls down but that it feels good to share. Not just something you went through in the past but something currently.

At Simi Psychological Group, we would help you be vulnerable. This will help you deepen your relationship with your teen. We will help you go outside your comfort zone in a way that allows you to feel more connected.

After you start doing this you will feel that your teen looks at you differently. Your teen sees you more as a person rather than a parent or someone that bugs them. You will feel more connected and have more to offer your teen.

NUMBER FOUR: You want so much to be able to get past all the eye rolls, ignoring, and effortless answers your teen gives you. You want to have a real conversation and really get them.

Strategy: Identify the underlying “real stuff” that is there. When you hear your teen talk about what they are going though, try to attune to, what its all really about. Maybe they are ignoring you, because they are scared to disappoint or worried they will make a mistake.

Understanding what is underlying will help you respond in ways that are a lot more attuned to your desire to connect and reduce reactivity. You and your teen will feel way less frustrated as well.

At Simi Psychological group, we will help you see the deeper feelings that your teen is expressing. It is often hard to see what deeper stuff is happening when it is your family. In Teen Therapy, one of our therapists can help you see things from a different view point and help you strengthen your bond.

After you start doing this you will feel less angry and annoyed with your teen. Since you will be able to understand things underneath it all, you can talk yourself through it, and recover more easily.

NUMBER FIVE: You feel anxious much of the time for your teen and relationship. You want things to get better but you are at a loss. Your anxiety impacts the way you talk to them and react on a regular basis.

Strategy: Help yourself ease your own anxiety. It is only natural for your own anxiety to come up in moments of communication with your teen or as you are thinking about their future. This anxiety can lead to increased reactivity, and damper the moments you have with your teen.

Don’t let your anxiety keep you more disengaged or distant from your teen. Help yourself to help them.

How we help you and your teen here at Simi Psychological Group

At SImi Psychological Group, we will work with you personally on understanding and easing your anxiety. Anxiety is often times contagious and when a parent is feeling anxious this does impact the kids, partner etc. We will work with you on building your toolbox so that you can tackle your anxiety and feel more in control.

When you schedule with us, you will feel that you are taking a positive step towards helping yourself, your teen, and family. As a result you will feel more hopeful for the future of your family and relationships with one another.

Becoming more connected to your teenager is such a gift you can give to the family. Try to take in the recommendations that are listed above to connect with your teen. Simi Psychological Group is here to help…. Contact us for a free consultation. We are here to help you live the life you dream of.  

At our Simi Valley mental health practice, we offer Child therapy, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing. We are now offering online therapy for most services.

Written by,

Donna Novak, Psy.D. 

Simi Valley Psychologist Dr. Donna Novak

I’m a licensed clinical psychologist who empowers people to work through the roadblocks that are holding them back and find meaning and purpose in their lives. Learn more