We live in an increasingly interconnected world. This is why it can sometimes be baffling that it’s not always easy to connect and stay connected with your teen. Most of the time, we have communication devices in our hands, using them to connect through social media and other platforms. But just how do you communicate with your teen if you’re struggling to talk and spend most of your time reminding them to do things versus having healthy conversations.
These eight tips will help you and your teen connect, reconnect, and continue to build a healthy relationship as your teen enters adulthood.
1. Listen, learn, and make an effort to understand
What are the things that your teen has an interest in? If the things that get your teen fired up and excited don’t align with the things that you’re interested in, it can pose a few challenges. Perhaps you’re into sports and your teen isn’t?
It could be he’s a gamer and you’re not? No matter where and how your interests differ, there is always an opportunity for you to find space for them to align.
- Show an interest in the things that your son is passionate about.
- Listen when he’s speaking about them.
- Take the time to learn about his passions and why they bring him such joy.
- Make a solid effort to understand his interests so that you can, at the very least, converse with him about them.
We all want to feel heard. For a teen who may not understand how to communicate with you anymore, ensuring that he does feel heard is one of the best ways for you to connect.
2. Validate his feelings and show him you trust him
It can be tempting to want to take over and solve your teen’s problems, downplay things he’s upset about, or not trust him to handle them on his own. But look at this from this perspective. You once taught him how to tie the laces on his shoes. You trusted that he could work through his frustration in learning, and he did learn.
While watching him struggle with friendships and burgeoning romantic relationships is a bit different and involves stronger emotions, the same approach could be beneficial. Your teen will understand that you trust him, and he’ll feel better about coming to you with the problems he’s facing. This will help that connection strengthen.
3. Self-esteem boosts
When our children are younger, we tend to give them more praise than we do when they reach their teen years. It is vital to encourage them to take those first steps or learn to ride a bike. Teenagers may act as if they don’t care about what their parents think. But in truth, teens still want our approval just as much as they did when they were little. Seeking out opportunities to provide positivity and encouragement is also good for your relationship with your teen, particularly when your relationship is under strain.
4. Do activities together
While talking is the best communication method, it’s not the only way. You could spend time with your teen doing some of the things you both enjoy. What this looks like will depend on what is important to your family and your sense of adventure.
Perhaps cooking, riding bikes, going for a hike, taking in a movie, or just having a day at the beach talking about your experiences. Your teen must know that he can just spend time with you without needing to explain anything or be interrogated about school or friends.
5. Enjoy meals together regularly
There’s much to say about sitting down with your family to enjoy a meal. These meals provide time for conversations. You can check in with your favorite reality star or about how your city’s football team is playing. Children and teens who feel at ease speaking with their parents about everyday things like sports and television are more likely to open up when difficult conversations come up.
You may also find that your teen enjoys preparing and cooking meals with you. Be sure to make a rule that phones and other devices are excluded at the dinner table. That’s one distraction that your family certainly doesn’t need while trying to stay connected to one another.
6. Open door policy
Your teen should always feel like he is welcomed into a conversation with you. To further connect with him, you could let him know that his friends are always welcome in your home. By providing your teen and his friends with a safe space in which to hang out and communicate, you’re demonstrating to him that you care.
7. Show up, be there
It can feel nearly impossible to juggle competing responsibilities when you’re a busy working parent. That said, your teen will notice if you cannot attend his swimming meets, his piano recital, and other important activities. I
f you can show up for him and be there when his eyes are scanning the crowd for you, you’ll be demonstrating to your teen that he can trust and rely on you. This will go a long way towards building those meaningful connections with him.
8. Texting, checking in
Your teen may not feel entirely comfortable with you following him on social media platforms. You should still make a strong effort to do so, however. Not to spy on him or judge him but more to understand his life and to better connect with him about those important things to him.
In addition, you could take the time to text your teen versus calling him. Teens are often reluctant to take calls from their parents if they’re hanging out with friends. But he may just agree to text you back. Texting can also be a safe space for your teen to communicate with you. He can avoid feeling uncomfortable in person and can probably better express himself using text. Any way you can increase your ability to communicate and connect with your teen will prove positive.
If your teen is struggling with his mental health or has been withdrawing from family and friends, it could just be that he needs professional help. Getting your teen the right type of help is a crucial part of ensuring that he can get back on the road to what normalcy looks and feels like for him. At HelpYourTeenNow we can connect parents and teens with the right type of resources when they are needed the most.