We have all been there. Adolescence is quite the journey for every individual – a journey of discovery, maturity, and lessons. While maintaining a good relationship with your child is encouraged throughout their life, it is important that that relationship is strong and healthy through their crucial teen years. Here are 10 ways to build a healthier relationship with your teen.
1. Change Your Mindset
Your child is growing up. They are no longer the completely dependent children you raised from infancy. They are maturing, learning, and taking on responsibilities, so you need to acknowledge that and adjust your parenting accordingly.
2. Act on Your Beliefs
Practice what you preach. While these teens are growing up and establishing their independence, they are still watching what you say and what you do. Everything you do and say are the building blocks for how your teen will parent their own children someday!
3. Establish Boundaries
All things in life have rules and boundaries, and the sooner your teen knows this, the better. It is all well and good for them to take on more responsibility and establish their independence, but you must also remember to establish clear and firm rules for your household. This is not so much asserting your authority, as it is a safety measure for your child and their peers. Another very important key here is that both parents are a unified front, otherwise this can wreak havoc on the family and creating stronger relationships.
4. Listen More, Talk Less
The biggest barrier between a teen and their parent is understanding. While we as humans make it a natural reaction to start explaining our point of view, solve the problem or even start yelling at our teen…this only makes the problem worse and pushes them away. The teenage years can be very overwhelming on your teen and they need to feel heard. Let them ask you for an opinion or answer, otherwise you can actively listen. Actively listening means letting your child express their feelings and emotions while you listen and repeat back what you heard. Teens will be more apt to listen and come to you if they get to be the initiator.
5. Remember the Past, Look to the Future
When times get especially tumultuous with your teen, remember how they were and look forward to what they will become. Put baby pictures up on the fridge, take interest in their interests and dream about where those interests might take them. You will harbor less stress, resentment, and anger if you approach these years in this way.
6. Address Situations, But Also Move On
Your teen is going to mess up. They are going to backtalk, cop an attitude, and get into trouble. It is important that you address these situations and scenarios, but you also need to let it go once the situation has been addressed and not succumb to heated arguments (easier said than done, I know). However, this will help you reduce the cycle of anger and fighting.
7. Share Interests and Challenges
While it feels like you want to run away and hide sometimes, parents need to be engaging more, not less with their teen during adolescence. By finding a shared enthusiasm or even a challenge, you can better bond with your teen. For instance, be at every sport-related game or musical recital – be present, be invested, and be excited.
8. Play Dates Aren’t Just for Kids
We all have busy lives and something pressing to do that never seems to get crossed off of the list, but it is also important that you set a date with your teen where you will do something together. Make it fun for you both, whether that is shopping, fishing, camping, running – set this date in stone, and while your teen might not show outward enthusiasm, they will remember these dates when they are older.
9. Be Tactful
When you are engaged in discussions that may constitute as touchy subjects with your teen, proceed with caution. Use ‘I’ statements and remember to always address the situation as the problem and not your child. The less accusatory you are, and more reasonable, the better the scenario will play out.
10. Be the Parent
Your child is getting older and starting to express interests and opinions on a more adult level. This is a very exciting time, and many parents can easily fall into the role of friend here instead of parent. It is important to assert your role as a parent first, friend second. Remember, it isn’t enough for your teen to ‘like’ you, they must also respect you too.
Being the parent of a teenager is never an easy task, and often times, can be very frustrating. By taking the time and care to engage and bond with your adolescent, you can make this transitional stage in their life, and yours, a more enjoyable and memorable experience.
Good Luck, You Great Parent, You,