Parenting teenagers is no easy feat. There are hormones, peer pressure, bullies, school responsibilities, finances, and extra-curricular activities you must navigate through. As you try to help your teen work through these many challenges, it can seem almost impossible to connect and truly understand them.
Here are a few ways you can better connect and build a close relationship with your teen:
Unplug from Technology
Text messaging, social media, and video games are just a few of the culprits that are grabbing the attention and focus of teens. Teens are spending more time behind screens than engaging in face-to-face contact. Unfortunately, this type of behavior can lead to mental health issues. Encourage your teens to unplug, even for a short period of time. You can unplug as a family, or just as a challenge for your teen. This will not only help them step away from the digital world but will also give you time to engage in conversation and enjoy their company without distractions.
Show Interest in Their Hobbies
Your teen has many interests and things he or she likes to do. Choose one of these activities and learn about it, and try to spend time participating in the hobby with your teen. For example, if they love biking, learn about the specific type they like to do (mountain, street, etc.), visit a bike shop together, and go for rides together. Not only is this a great way to spend time with them, but it will mean a lot to them that you are enthusiastic about their interests.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
If you want to be involved in your teen’s life, you need to put forth the effort. One of the first steps is to start conversations and communicate with one another. You can do this by asking open-ended questions that require more than just a simple “yes” or “no.” Additionally, open-ended questions allow you to find interesting tidbits of information and help you carry on a conversation.
Teens are going to make mistakes and it is easy to become upset and let your emotions take control. When your child makes a mistake, listen to his or her side of the story, ask questions, and calm yourself down if necessary. You should not react harshly and too critically when it is not absolutely necessary. This type of behavior will push your child away, instead of drawing them in.
The teenage years is a time of self-discovery and independence. It is important that you give your child the space they need to learn who they are and to how to use their growing freedom. When you respect your child’s privacy, you are showing your teen that you trust him or her. However, if the safety of your child or another individual could be affected, it’s always best to step in.
It is hard to navigate through the teenage years and there will always be challenges you must face. However, by being mindful of your teen and present in his or her life, you’ll see a big difference in how they respond to you and life’s challenges.