Below are a few tips to nurture and maintain a close relationship with your teen.
Familiarize yourself with social media
This is how your child communicates with the world around them. Parents may connect with their teen by sending short messages or photos through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Not only is this a great way to connect with your child, but it also allows you to monitor their communication for potential dangerous situations.
Know your teen’s interests.
Educate yourself on what your child is passionate about. By reading up on his/her topics of interest, whether it be music, video games, sports or hobbies, this will serve as great source of topic for discussion and it will demonstrate to your child how important they are to you.
Spend time with your teen.
You may get a few blank stares when asking your teen to participate in activities but insist that they do it anyway. These activities should be things that they enjoy such as eating out, going to the movies, visiting a museum, paint ball, sports events, BBQ’s at the beach and videotaping them skateboarding. The time together does not have to be a long event, just think quality over quantity. These activities may be done as a family, but it is also recommended to have “one on one” time with your teen on a consistent basis. All distractions should be limited during this time by turning off cell phones and not inviting your teen’s friends to join you. Take advantage of local shops or businesses in the area for tours that relate to your teens interests; for example, if your teen loves to bake set up a tour at the local bakery.
Communicate with your teen.
One rule of thumb, do more listening and less talking with your teen. Teens may feel more comfortable opening up to talk when participating in an activity such as doing the dishes, riding in a car or during mealtime. Usually, the best time to talk to teens is during the later evening and not first thing when they wake up in the morning. Teens are generally night owls and need time in the mornings to slowly wake up. When talking with your teen, discuss topics that they are passionate about and not what they should have done or need to do, such as chores, grades and house rules. If the majority of the discussion is focused on these topics, teens will slowly shut down and limit the communication to a minimum. Tips for effective communication include asking open- ended questions, using I statements and strive for “shared meaning” where the goal is to be heard accurately.
Show your teen affection.
Teens may not admit that they want or still need their parent’s affection, but it is another way to show how much you care about them. The way to demonstrate affection will change to more of high fives, fist bumps or a small pat on the back. Of course, the timing and style will depend on what is comfortable for the teen, which they will surely let you know.
Respect your teen’s boundaries.
Teens need their personal space to relax and be themselves. These quite times give your teen the time to think and to de-stress. Teens also need breathing space to grow and to make their own decisions.
Find humor in daily life.
Teens love to laugh and appreciate a good sense of humor. When parents display their playful side, it shows their teen that life is good and that they can face any challenges ahead with a positive attitude. As parents, one thing to keep in mind is for every negative interaction there should be five positive interactions to balance the scales.