You love your teenager. There’s no doubt about it. For your teen, however, feeling like you’re imposing more rules, boundaries, and consequences for his behavior may feel like he isn’t loved as much anymore. Your work schedule and other family obligations may have you spending less time together, which can be upsetting even for a teen who is looking for more independence.
Your relationship with your teen may look different today than it did a few years ago, particularly as your teen becomes more independent.
It’s easy to scoff and dismiss the way that your teen is feeling because of course, you love him. However, it’s important that you express this and demonstrate it to your teen. We’ve got a few ways that you can show love to your teens, particularly if there are a few difficulties and strains in the relationship.
You never outgrow hugging
Your teenager may not come in for a hug when he’s feeling down, but most of us can attest to the fact that there’s nothing quite as comforting as a hug. Your teen may cringe and duck away when you go in for a random hug most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop trying to hug him. Even the moodiest of teens can benefit from the physical touch of someone who cares about them. Be sure to ask him if it’s okay for you to hug him. He may agree to it every now and then.
Saying goodnight, every night
Remember how much your teen loved to be tucked in when he was little? He may have outgrown wanting to have his covers tucked in around him and have you read him a bedtime story. But that doesn’t mean you can’t establish a new nightly routine. Perhaps you can share a cup of hot chocolate or just have a quick chat about how his day was or what he has planned for the following day at school. It might take a bit of time to establish a new routine with your teen, but you can start slowly. In time, it’ll become second nature for the two of you to connect each night.
Listening, truly listening
It can be easy to get into a pattern of telling your kids what to do and how to do it. But when last did you truly listen to the thoughts and opinions your teen has? As his parent, you certainly do have more life experience, but that doesn’t mean that his thoughts aren’t valid. Listen to your teen when he talks to you. Instead of trying to solve any problems he presents to you, ask him if he wants you just to listen or to offer up suggestions. Being heard is something that we all want and can definitely make us feel loved and appreciated.
Giving them support and guidance
The teen years are all about establishing your independence from your parents. However, even the most independent teen can benefit from support and guidance every so often. In fact, the teen years are when they need us the most. It’s an important stage in their lives, where things are changing rapidly for them. Not only is your teen working to figure out who he is, but he’s also working on making some big decisions that could alter the direction of his future. Remind your teen that’ll listen and provide support and guidance when he needs it. Sometimes knowing that someone is there for you can help you to feel loved.
Showing enthusiasm and interest
Remember when your teen was an excitable toddler or came home from school with a project or nugget of information he was excited to share with you? His face likely lit up when he shared with you, and you responded with enthusiasm and a level of excitement that matched his. Your teen may not be bringing home macaroni art these days, but he’ll definitely enjoy it if you show enthusiasm and interest in the things that he’s excited about.
This may be something that happened at school, a discussion he had with friends or even the video games he’s interested in. You may not share his passion for the topic, but you don’t need to. Knowing that he’s heard and that you understand how much something means to him will help your teen to feel loved and validated.
Giving him your complete attention
There are so many distractions we are all guilty of paying more attention to. Your smartphone, your tablet, work, a show on tv, or a phone call with someone else. Each of these things does have a role in your life, certainly. But it can be disheartening for your teen to try and compete with these distractions for your attention. This is an easy fix for you. Simply put down the other distractions and focus solely on your teen. You can even do this by going for a walk, a hike, or a drive together. The important thing is that you’re together and he’s getting your complete attention when he’s talking with you.
Treats and extra fun
None of us want to be accused of spoiling our kids. But sometimes it’s okay to give in and get your teen a treat or do something fun that he enjoys. This could be as thoughtful as getting him his favorite snacks or making his favorite dinner. Or it could be as large as going on a family adventure and vacation together every summer. Even going to see a movie together can be a bit of extra fun for you and your teen. Of course, he may ask that you go to a theatre none of his friends will be at.
Saying the words
How often do you tell your teen that you love him? Even on those days when he isn’t acting very lovable, those are often the days that he needs to hear the words the most. Your teen may feel insecure and worried that you don’t love him as much as you did, particularly if you are both butting heads and arguing about his behaviors and actions. Telling him that you love him, even in passing, can reassure him that you’re still in his corner.
Have you started to consider a residential treatment center for your teen? It could be that you’re not yet ready to decide to send your teen to one. At HelpYourTeenNow, we can connect you with resources that may be the better option for your teen and your family.
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