Connecting with your teens isn’t easy. At this tricky time, they are forming their own identity and feeling a lot of strong emotions. Sometimes that can come out in a rebellious way. Most of the time, it means that they are difficult to deal with. Fortunately, there are ways that you can change this. Here are six smart tips for parents to connect with teens.
The most important tip on this list is to listen. You might think that you know the answer to their problems, but that won’t come across if you don’t listen. You need to put your own bruised ego as a parent aside and hear what they have to say. Sometimes they will open up completely. Other times, they will slam their door in your face. You just need to be consistently available.
Validate their feelings
Teenagers often feel like no one understands them. They are feeling things for the first time, which can be scary and cause them to lash out. As a parent, you need to validate their feelings and let them know that what they are feeling is normal. Never brush their feelings off as trivial or tell them it’s just a phase.
Trust is always important in a parent/teen relationship. At times, they will feel isolated. You need to let them know that you trust them and that they can trust you. Set ground rules but trust them to follow them. Don’t check up on them constantly. Just let them know that you worry about them and would like them to check in. Trusting your teen will make the relationship much healthier.
Don’t be a dictator
When it comes to dealing with a rebellious teen, it’s tempting to rule like a dictator. However, this will only lead to further distancing. It’s okay to set rules and create punishments for breaking the rules, but they need to be decided beforehand and enforced consistently.
Try some hobbies together
Finding something in common with your teenager is difficult. They probably like their own music, have their own circle of friends, and don’t want anything to do with you. However, it’s still a good idea to keep trying to find common ground. Trying new hobbies with them will make it easier to connect. You could buy model plane kits, take them rock climbing, or take them to a concert. Don’t surprise them with something. Instead, ask them what they would like to try and do it together, and don’t be upset if they aren’t interested.
Dealing with a troubled teenager can be emotionally draining. At times, you will question if you even like them. Their constant bad tempers and abusive language can wear down on you. However, it’s important to remember that it’s all because of the difficult hormones and emotions. One way to combat this is to give them praise. When they handle a situation well, make sure you tell them. When they achieve in school, let them know you’re proud. This will break through their iron-clad defenses. Who knows? You might even get a smile.