Wondering how to connect with your teen? Having children ranging from under a year to the teen years, I see some familiar ground and new challenges to parenting. Finding that connection may take some work as our children transition into adults. But the work is worth it.
But the interesting thing is, sometimes our teens don’t want to hear the advice. Sometimes our children don’t feel like having those heart-to-hearts. What is a parent to do when your teen is pulling away? You can still connect with your teen; here are some suggestions.
Don’t ask yes or no questions
If you aren’t skilled in this area, it can take some practice. The idea is that you don’t want to ask a question that can be answered simply. If you ask, “Did you have a good day?” it’s possible to get nothing more than a grunt and a yes or no. However, if you ask, “Tell me the best thing that happened to you today,” you may be pleasantly surprised.
Sit side by side when you chat
For some reason, teenagers are more apt to open up when they aren’t making eye contact. It’s true. Sitting side by side on the couch, or better yet, while driving in the car, can provoke some productive conversation. The flipside, though, face to face, is often too intimidating, especially when the conversation may involve an intimidating topic.
Don’t let them disappear
Far too often teens like to find hide away for some alone time. If you’re very busy, especially if you have other children, make sure to check in. Make time to lie across the bed in their room and chat for a bit. Don’t let them be out of mind or out of sight for too long. It has been said that even in a noisy and crowded environment, one can feel lonely, so connect by staying ahead of the loneliness and ensuring that you keep lines of communication wide open.
Don’t have off-limits topics
Encouraging your teen to have an open and honest dialogue with you about anything and everything will bode well for your relationship. There are, of course, topics that can be somewhat uncomfortable, but roll with it and let your teen know that they cannot scare you off. You can wade through any conversation they need to have with you.
Along with not having off-limit topics, I often tell my teens there are no off-limit hours, either. My husband and I notice that our toddlers come in the room at 1 am because they’re scared. Our teens come in the room at 1 am because they need to talk, especially my daughter. It could be something that happened that day that’s bothering her, or it could be that she couldn’t sleep and needs to chat. While we have little ones around still, they know that if something is bothering them, they can come to us, even in the wee hours of the morning.
Be very in tune to what they like
It can be hard if your child has interests that don’t interest you but find a way to connect. If your child is fascinated by old westerns, study up on some of the story lines. If your child loves cooking, let them whip something up for you while you visit. When their likes change, take note.
All in all connecting with your teen is often about the quality of time, not the quantity. We are only given so many hours in a day, and so many days in a lifetime, so let’s make them count.
If you’ve parented a teen, what advice do you have?
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