We live in an era where all aspects of life are constantly shifting. Societal trends, technology and social media have started to control many facets of life & communication; and for teens, the effects of these developments are often enhanced by hormonal changes and peer pressure.
It is quite common for parents to experience a disturbance in the relationship with their children at this stage of life. Perhaps they are becoming distant and hard to manage, or maybe they are communicating less while misbehaving more. As parents, it can be difficult for you to understand, meet and prevent these challenges with your children which can add a lot of stress to a family dynamic.
Here at Cornerstone we are armed and able to help with both sides of this battle. And in the spirit of making it easier on families at home, we have developed some tips for parents that can help you achieve and sustain a healthier relationship with your teenagers.
Listen more, ask less.
We all know that an abundance of questions, poking and prodding can be overwhelming; and for teenagers it has proven to be the ultimate irritant. Instead of overloading your teen with questions, try opening up your discussions with a statement. Build a conversation that flows without the excessive asks, and try your best to listen more than you talk. The goal is to know more about your teen and what is going on in their life. An open listener is more likely to be met with an open communicator that is willing to listen to you in return.
Talk more, about you.
Continuing in the vein of communication— reverse the roles and talk about you. When your teen isn’t constantly the center of attention they will likely feel less pressure. It will assure them that you are not trying to interfere with their lives, but striving to contribute to them. Sharing with them could inspire a response about certain activities or happenings in their lives. Starting with you could be the gateway to better conversations with your teen.
Play offense not defense
A final tip on communication, try to avoid defensive comments and reactions. Many teenagers develop an attitude that feels critical or cruel which makes it difficult to sustain a discussion. Do your best to remain calm in these instances. Play offense by attempting to bring the conversation back to a neutral place. Being defensive will only heighten their demeanor and make them less willing to connect with you. By demonstrating a calm character they won’t have grounds to continue an irritable state.
Make moments & memories
Quality time with your child likely came more organically at their younger age. But once they hit the teenage years it is likely that you will have to put in some extra effort to achieve those moments. With all of the activities that your teenager is taking part in, it can be harder to find time with them; so we encourage you to use the every day opportunities that you have to do some bonding.
Things like commutes to school or trips to the grocery store are great ways for you to strengthen the relationship with your teen. You could throw in special stops along the way, or surprise them with a favorite activity. Seeing this effort will help them to feel loved and cared for.
You may also have to master the process of give & take. Perhaps your teen wants to go to their friend’s house for a get together but you were hoping to have a family night instead. Negotiate with them and allow them to go, as long as they spend time with the family on another night. By being open and willing to share their time, they will feel respected and you will see benefits through an improved attitude.
Take Interest in their Interests
Your teenager will likely develop new interests or take part in new activities during this time in their life. We encourage you to take an interest in those and learn more about them. Since your teen is investing time and energy into these activities, making an effort to learn, discuss and understand those things will make them feel appreciated and supported. Having this knowledge can lead to many fruitful conversations about their hobbies and achievements which could foster a better relationship with your teen.
Do your research & Be cautious
With the rapid changes in the social media environment, it can be hard to recognize certain terms or activities that your teenager is referencing. Although not all are dangerous, it is smart to research the points that you are unfamiliar with to insure that your teen is safe and healthy. Arming yourself with any and all knowledge of these things can prove to be helpful in protecting them or addressing them when concerns arise.
Every family is different; and if you find that these suggestions are not alleviating the issues that you experience, please give us a call. We would be happy to work with you or your teenager in order to better the relationship you share!