A BLOG FOR PARENTS WHO WANT TO LEARN HOW TO NAVIGATE THE TEEN YEARS AND NOT JUST SURVIVE BUT THRIVE!
Do you remember all the silly shows you would watch, and the games/toys you would play with for hours just for the sake of your growing baby/toddler? It may not always have been the most fun way to spend your day, but you knew you had to get on their level to connect and help them learn and grow.
So why is it that this concept is thrown out the window once kids start to become teens? Suddenly we have “better things to do” with our time than listen to our teens talk about their day, friends, favorite shows, sports, or hobbies. Is it because our kids can now think and behave in more complex ways, so we expect them to do more “adult” things with their new capabilities?
How can we forget teens are still growing and learning, and need us to meet them where they are? It’s been my experience that parents of teens who engage in activities meeting the teens where they are developmentally, tend to have better relationships and know more about what is happening in their teen’s life.
How can a parent reengage with their teen? Here are 3 easy ways:
1. Meet them where they are.
Pay attention to what they are into. Learn more about it on your own. Ask them questions about their interests. Human beings love to talk about themselves and their passions. Teens are no different, but they do want to see you GENUINELY care. This means put down the phone, turn off the tv, and ignore other distractions (within reason of course). Learn how you can participate in their interests and meet them in the middle where necessary.
2. Actively Listen.
We all can tell when someone is listening and when someone is distracted. Ask questions. Reflect back what they are talking about to make sure you’re understanding. Validate their experiences and emotions. Remember don’t label their feelings. While labeling their feelings was helpful when they were younger because you needed them to be able to express themselves clearly, now it just makes them feel like you’re telling them “what to do/feel.” Let’s be honest no one likes being told how they feel by someone who is not experiencing their thoughts and feelings.
3. Fight the urge to fix it.
As an adult, do you like it when others don’t listen to you when you have a concern or want to voice an experience? Do you appreciate it when someone begins criticizing or judging you based on your choices, behaviors, style, friends, partner, etc.? I’m going to guess the answer is no. Guess what? Your teen doesn’t like it either. Your role as a parent is to guide, protect, nurture, support, and teach not to judge or criticize. There will be enough people in your teens life who already occupy that space, they don’t need that at home too. Remember why you like to come home? Maybe it’s because you feel safe, loved, understood and supported. That’s what your teen should feel too, so check in and see if you are doing what you can to make this a reality for them.
Reconnecting with teens is easier than at first glance, but it does require effort and focus just like when they were younger. You need to be genuinely interested in connecting. If you are not, your teen can tell a mile away and will shut down almost instantly.
Want some practical ideas on how to reengage with your teen? Then be sure to download my FREE Ideas List for more ways to actively and authentically connect with your teen.