How To Connect With Your Teen
Does your teen not spend enough time with you? Do you miss having your 'little' baby around? Here's how you can build a special relationship with your teenager all over again.
By Shashwathi Sandeep
Remember those days when your 'baby' would not let go of you even for a second or those confused tween years when he would discuss school, friends, and almost everything, with you? Sadly, with the arrival of teenage, times change. With the myriad of changes your teen is going through, you would not even notice that he is in the same room with you.
The reasons for this disconnect are many. It may be peer pressure, the need to stay 'cool', your concern proves too much of an interference, or that you do not understand him.
Whatever the reason, it is time to bridge that gap between you and your teen.
Some ways to connect with your teen
• Bond with his friends: For your teen, nothing would seem more important than his friends. But, here's how you can get closer to your teen. To begin with, tell him that he could invite his buddies over as often as he likes. Whether it's study groups, after-school hangouts or even sleepovers, let him invite his friends. This will make him feel that he has really 'cool' parents, who are interested in his life and it will bring him closer to you. Bonus? You will get to know what his friends are like and will be able to keep a close watch without interfering.
• Create rituals: The best way to connect with your teen is by spending some quality time together, and by making it 'your' thing—it just adds that special touch. Both of you can connect over something as simple as eating out at a restaurant or going on a short vacation. Let your teen choose the destination; assist her only if she needs help. Such 'exclusive' trips make teens feel important and wanted. It also helps to keep you updated about your teen’s life.
• Find similar interests: There may be a generation gap between you and your teen, but there will still be a few areas where your interests converge. For example, movies. There may be a certain genre of movie that you both like or an actor; it does not really matter what. Have a fun chat with your teen about those movies or stars; or better yet, go out for movies with him that you both want to watch. Your teen would love to show off his 'fun' parent to his friends too. This makes your bond stronger with your teen and will make him feel comfortable around you.
• Share your teenage years: One reason why your teen might distance herself from you is because she thinks that you don’t understand how she feels; what she forgets is that you were a teen too at one point in your life. So, go ahead...tell her about your teenage years; share the good and the embarrassing moments. This way, she'll understand that you too went through the same phase that she is going through. This would prompt her to trust you more and open up to you.
• Allow to take the lead sometimes: As a parent, you think you know what is best for your child. But, at times, it is best to allow your teen to take the lead; in other words, give him what he wants. Learn to say 'yes' instead of 'no', for a change. When your teen wants to visit his best friend or go to a concert in another city, allow him to. If need be, accompany him. You could drop him off at the venue and wait till he is done. That way, he will get to do what he wants to and you will also feel assured. It will also make your teen appreciate you for all the effort that you took and assure him that he can approach you for absolutely anything. If you say no most of the time, your teen might begin lying or hiding facts.
• Minimise anger interactions: Your teen is almost an adult now and does not feel the need to be told what to do all the time. So, avoid asking her too many questions like, 'Where are you going?', 'With whom are you going?' and so on. This said and done, your teen should by now have gained your trust and respect, and should tell you everything before you get the urge to question her. Asking too many questions, when you don’t need to, can upset your teen.
• Listen to what he says: Finally, it boils down to something as simple as listening. Whether it is struggling with grades, bullies or rejection, teenage can be really overwhelming. As a parent, you should be your teen’s go-to person when he needs someone to hear out his problems, without being judgmental. If you don't listen to what he has to say, he may feel rejected, which can cause more emotional and psychological problems.
Parenting can be trying at times, it brings out the best and the worst in a person. At the end, it all comes down to that bond which we share with our children that makes them the individual they will be. The better the relationship, the better the upbringing can be.
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