How To Improve Your Relationship With Your Teenager

Communicating With Your Teenager

Raising teenage children can be a painful parenting experience - ouch! You want a close relationship with them, but they make it so hard to get close when they display disrespect and disobedience towards you. The "back-and-forth" bickering causes the rift to widen each day in your relationship with your teen son or daughter.

Remember the good ol' days when your child was young, and would turn to you for everything? It was so simple to discipline him using rewards and consequences, and even easier to forgive him because he was so darn cute!

Then as your child grows into a teenager, he seems to want to do the exact opposite of what you say. He argues about everything and cares more about reaching out to his friends, playing a video game, or being on his phone. If you even try to probe into his life, you’re often met with disdain and disinterest and receive responses such as, "Nothing" or "I don't know."

So how do you communicate with your teenagers without making them feel as if you're stepping on their toes?

The biggest parenting tips for raising teens is to use tons of love and spend quality time with them.

How Is This Possible? Read five ways to improve your relationship with your teen son or daughter.

1. Show Your Teen Love

Show your teenager how much you love him through your actions. Giving him hugs, tousling his hair, and smiling at him are often excellent ways to start. I know it's hard at times when all you want to do is grab him by the shirt and shake some sense into him. Though, remember that this is an awkward phase in both your lives and it will soon pass. It is essential to discover what gets through to your teenager so you can use what's most effective. Some ideas would include:

  • Showing your teen affection often
  • Giving your teen a thoughtful gift sometimes
  • Making your teen's favorite meal or dessert and saying you did it mainly for him
  • Simply expressing encouragement and praise for the things he does.

2. Give Your Teen Time

A teenager recognizes love as the time you spend with her and with the family as a whole. It may seem that taking part in family activities is not what she wants to do, but that time spent together will help keep her connected to you and the rest of the household. She needs this family time to thrive but doesn't know it herself.

Spending one-on-one time with your teen is another great way to bond. Take her out to do something fun together, go for coffee, or to her favorite restaurant for lunch. A teen usually would love to:

  • Go to a bookshop
  • Go for a hike
  • Go for a movie
  • Go shopping
  • Go for a spa day
  • Get a sundae or slushy
  • Get a new haircut
  • Have her nails done etc. 

I know this may seem like you're spoiling her when she doesn't deserve it, but setting this "teen-time" will give her something to look forward to and form good memories together. Plus, you're subtly bonding with her on her turf so she'll turn less to her friends. 

The key is to choose something your teen will enjoy according to her personality. There are also a ton of options if your budget is tight so you need not spend a lot to bond. 

3. Listen To Your Teen

Let your teen know that you are always willing to listen to him. When you say phrases like, "I’m here for you" or "I would love to hear about your day" you are letting him know you support him. Do not put any pressure on him to talk and to answer multiple probing questions. Be a good listener and allow your teen to problem-solve. In other words, if your teen seems troubled, ask him a simple question and wait for him to answer. Show him that you are listening, but don't chime in with any solutions. When you casually ask more questions, he will work on problem-solving it himself. Afterward, you can subtly add your advice to his resolution, so he doesn't feel as if you are telling him what to do.

If your teen feels that you are railroading him with advice and lectures, especially after he is opening up, he may start tuning you out. I know that tends to be difficult to control when your instinct as a parent is screaming otherwise, but being subtle and talking when the timing is right will get better results when communicating with your teen.

4. Be Real With Your Teen

As you try to understand your teen, let your teen understand you. She will feel that she can relate to you more when she realizes that you had similar feelings and confusion at her age. When you share some relevant teen stories or events of your past, you are showing her what you were like before you were a parent. This honesty will make your teen feel more comfortable sharing her stories with you because she'll think that it is normal and won't cause your disapproval.

Even better, admit the mistakes of your past and relate the life experiences you've gained from them. Showing your teen that you are human and have weaknesses too, will make her admire you as a person who has the courage to admit mistakes. She will also feel more comfortable knowing that you are not perfect either and that your mistakes made you wiser.

5. Be an Example to Your Teen

Teenagers don't think of their parents as role models because they believe their parents are too judgmental and unconcerned about their young lives. Your teen will place a higher value on “being real" (as mentioned in #4), even if he doesn't always live that way. Remember your teen is watching everything you do and say. He will observe how you handle ethical situations and how you treat other people. Teens look to see if you are doing what you say they should be doing.

Being an example might be the hardest step for a parent to do. We want our child to be better than ourselves, yet we forget that we can't ask our kid to do what we cannot do. That's why it pays to be respectful toward your teenager and not to be condescending when addressing him, even when you disagree.

It is possible to have a healthy relationship with your teenager, don't believe otherwise or think your teen is too selfish to care. She cares way more than you think, as she is at a an extremely sensitive stage in her development. What you say negatively to your teen will cut deep even though she won't admit it.

Work on strengthening your relationship with your teenager and leave the door of communication wide open. Continue to show her your love, even when she pulls away.

Lastly, keep setting aside time to spend with her on your own and as a family. With time, the teen phase shall pass, and you won't be left feeling that as a parent you didn't try or that you failed because you gave up too soon.

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