The teenage years are some of the most complicated times in our lives. They go through bodily changes, hormonal swings, and new feelings. To make things even more complicated, teens often either don’t know how to talk to their parents, or are afraid to reach out. In the end, most of the responsibility falls on the parent to make sure that the lines of communication are open, and that their teens know they are there to support them no matter what.
Today, More Time Moms has a few tips to consider when reaching out to a teenager.
1. Keep An Eye On Their Self-Esteem
Self-esteem can be a particularly tricky issue for teens. Make sure your teenager always knows you’re proud of them, win or lose, in success or failure. Negative self-image can cause depression and eating disorders, so talk about the pressures your child might be feeling to look, eat, or dress a certain way.
Pay attention to how your teen carries themselves: do they walk tall, or do they keep their head down most of the time? Give your teen a sincere compliment whenever you get the chance, even if it’s something you think they know. A simple, “You’ve been doing really well in school this term, way to go!” can make all the difference to a teen who may feel insecure. Observing and intervening can also help you to help them address issues of depression or anxiety, too.
2. Don’t Let Arguments Escalate Out Of Control
Realistically, there are going to be a few fights between you and your teen; it’s the nature of any important relationship to have a disagreement from time to time. GoodHousekeeping says that anger is a normal emotion in teens. As the parent, it’s crucial that you maintain control of these situations and don’t let them exceed your authority.
Don’t display outwardly aggressive behavior like invading personal space or staring a teen directly in their eye. Be mindful of your body language, which can sometimes overpower what you are trying to say. Also, watch your tone and the words you choose, as they both carry a lot of meaning.
Even when things get tough, stay calm. If the argument appears to be escalating, say you should both take some time to step away and gather yourselves. Once you’ve both calmed down, the conversation will usually be a lot more productive. Keep in mind that sometimes, a teen (or anyone, for that matter) just needs to vent. It doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted or that they won’t open up to you later. Be patient.
3. Find Fun Ways To Connect
Your relationship with your teen should extend past suppertime and morning car rides to school. Just because you’re the parent doesn’t mean you can’t have fun together, so find entertaining ways to bond. Go to a sports event, see a movie, or have dinner together. As Passports and Parenting explains, you don’t have to break the bank to have some fun together.
You can even be workout partners. Take a hike through the woods to get some fresh air or go for a stress-relieving swim at the local health club. Your teen needs to know that you don’t just check in when things are obviously wrong, but that you’re always there, in good times and bad.
4. Show Appreciation
We all want to feel like what we do matters and our hard work is noticed, so don’t assume your teen knows how proud and grateful you are. MomJunction suggests taking notice of their good habits, like how they do chores without you asking them to, and be sure to thank them for helping out.
If your teen is a star pupil, don’t let their good marks go unnoticed simply because you’re used to them. Celebrate a high exam score or grade with their favorite meal, a day trip somewhere special, or a teen-approved perk.
If you get an attitude when asking for a favor, sincerely thank them for helping you out and taking time out of their day. Teens are under a lot of pressure at school and home, so don’t take that for granted. Recognizing all that your teen does can build their self-confidence and create a stronger, happier bond.
5. Put Your Teen First
Yes, teenagers get annoyed with their parents, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still want a lot of parental attention. It may be that when they seem to be upset about the small things that it might really be about giving too much of your time to your work. Working parents know that it’s important to prioritize time spent with kids, and we can lose sight of that as our kids become more mature.
A teenager may not want you to tuck them in, but it’s still important to be there at bedtime. We tend to let our guards down a little before bed, especially as kids get older. However, it’s a good time to connect with your teen. Especially if you haven’t seen them all day, you catch up in a few minutes.
Don’t let potentially isolating teenage behavior create a gap between you and your child. Make the extra effort to reach out to them and be present in their life, and soon they will find the courage to come to you on their own when they need advice or guidance. Being a teenager is tough, but knowing how to tackle the issues that will inevitably come up between parent and child is the difference between growing up in constant battles, or living a life in relative peace.
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By Marjorie Jones