They’re Not Kids Anymore: 5 Proven Ways To Connect With Your Teen
Did you wake up one day, and your adorable 11-year-old turned into someone you don’t even know? Guess what, your child is now a teenager. It’s unlikely they’re going to want to spend Friday nights eating pizza while binge-watching Netflix; instead, they’re going to want to run off and hang out with friends. No need to worry; this is normal for kids.
Due to their focus shifting from family to friends, it can be hard to stay connected. They don’t want to have anything to do with you most of the time, and this can be not very encouraging. They are looking for ways to claim their independence at this time in their lives, and the two of you can easily drift apart.
As a parent, it is your job to make sure you have a strong relationship with your child. So make plans with them even if they don’t seem too thrilled about it. Even if they moan and complain the whole time, you can rest assured they will remember the time you spent together.
There are a few simple ways that can help you to connect with your teen. These are things that, with time and effort, can create an even stronger bond. Some of the things you can do are.
Take Time to Listen
When talking with your teens, could you give them your full attention? Don’t let your mind wander off and start daydreaming. Kids are pretty smart, and they’re going to know if you’re listening or not. One of the biggest indicators you’re not listening to is when you start talking before finishing their thought.
Often, they want to talk and will throw little hints out there, and at times, they can be subtle. If you give them the standard “mmhmm” response, you may have just missed a great chance to bond. The worst thing you can do is try to pressure them into talking. If you do this, it will be about as easy as pulling teeth.
This is a conversation most parents dread and will probably be awkward for both of you. What teen wants to talk to their parents about sex? Probably none. Believe it or not, this can help create a natural bond between the two of you. It will give you the chance to reassure them of how anything they are feeling is normal, and you could also share stories about some crushes you had when you were young.
Having this talk is also a good time for you to talk to them about any unwanted behaviors they have experienced and any unacceptable behaviors. You may believe your teen already knows about these things, but they may not. They don’t realize it’s sexual abuse when it comes from someone in the church or an authority figure in their lives.
Pay Attention to Sudden Changes
No matter how close you and your teenager are, there will be things they don’t tell you. This is why it’s essential to notice when they suddenly start losing weight, stay cooped up in their room, or their grades start falling. It could just be a phase, or it may be something else. While they could be just going through a hard time, it may be time to seek out someone knowledgeable to help.
Give Them Space
This is probably a hard one to do. You want to protect them from all of the mistakes you made when you were young. Instead of saving them, you may end up smothering them.
This is why they need a chance to make mistakes on their own. Let them go to parties, let them go on dates, and try not to worry too much. It’s normal to worry about what they’re doing and who they’re with, but at some point, you have to learn to let them grow up—at least a little.
This is not only talking about you trusting them, but they need to trust you too. If they don’t trust you, who do you think they’re going to turn to when things get complicated.
You can earn their trust by showing them that it stays just between the two of you when they tell you something. Showing that you trust them is also relatively simple. You can ask them to do something small like running to the grocery store to show you believe in them.
Nothing on this list is too difficult, and they are all things most of you probably already do. If they are new to you, then it’s something you can start doing today. Creating a strong relationship with your teenager will create a bond that will always be there.