5 Practical and Easy Ideas for Connecting with Your Teen

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The teenage years are hard. Hard for the kids and definitely hard for the parents. Where once stood your little toothless child now stands an almost-adult who at times seems to live in some sort of alternate universe.

It hurts when your teen seems to want to spend all her time alone in her room or when he acts like he wants nothing to do with you.

Here are some practical and easy ways that I have found to connect with my teen.

1. Be Available

You can’t expect your teen to connect with you if you don’t ever make time for him. If your life is so busy that you don’t have time to be at home and just spend time with your teen, you are too busy. Dump something unimportant and be there.

Don’t assume that just because your teen is spending all her time in her room it means that she doesn’t want to spend time with you. Invite her to come out and do something with you. Tell her that you want to spend time with her.

When she does come to you to talk about something, learn to listen with open ears and a shut mouth. Ask before giving advice. Give respect, not nagging.

2. Be Present

You can’t be angry at your teen for not paying attention to you when every time you are together you are constantly on the phone or texting or checking Facebook. PUT IT DOWN and be present with your teen.

3. Ask your Teen to Teach You Something

What is your teen really good at? Find something that you find interesting and ask them to teach you how to do it. If they are constantly posting pictures on Instagram, ask them to show you how it works. If they love soccer, ask them to teach you something about the game. If they are a talented musician, ask them to show you how to do something related to their instrument. Let them be your teacher and be serious in your attempt to learn.

4. Listen to Their Music

Okay. I know I sound crazy now. But music is a window into the soul of your teen. Ask him who his favorite artists are and listen to them. Try to find a song that you can tolerate…or maybe even enjoy. Tell your teen about the song that you like and why you like it.  Listen to it together.

5. Surprise Them

I am not talking about surprising them with expensive gifts. I am talking about bringing them food from their favorite restaurant for lunch at school. They may not want you to stay and eat with them and that is okay. Just surprise them by dropping it off in the front office.

Put a note in his car that he is sure to find that reminds him how special he is to you. Take them on a date to the movies and watch what they want to see. Anything that reminds them that they are loved and precious to you is a good surprise.

Parenting the teen years is hard work. We, as parents, have to learn to respect our children as the almost-adults that they are, but also still give them the love and nurturing that they need and desire.

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Valuing Character in Your Teen

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Being a teen is really hard. We all know that. Our teens are under so much pressure to be the best: the best student, the best athlete, the best musician. The list goes on and on.

It is up to us as parents to encourage those things in our teens that so often get ignored. We need to notice what our teens are good at, where there hearts are drawn, and teach them that THOSE things matter.

Watch your child. Find the ways that they are naturally gifted. Tell them that you notice. Encourage them.

My daughter is talented in many ways and she knows how proud we are of her. Sometimes I forget that her gifts as an athlete or an artist aren’t the most important things about her.

But you know what I noticed the other day? She hates it when people disagree. She hates it when girls gossip about each other. She hates in when the older girls on her volleyball team leave the younger girls out. She is always trying to keep the peace.

She is a peacemaker through and through.

But I had never taken the time to stop and notice it before. I have never looked at her in the eye and said, “I see how good you are at helping people get along. You are a peacemaker. And that is valuable.”

So I did. And I could tell by the way that she responded that it mattered to her that I noticed.

Is your child naturally compassionate? Are they really hardworking? Do they see the needs of others and find a way to meet them? Are they really good at making friends? Are they trustworthy, honest or humble?

Notice those things. Those are the things that matter in the end.

Still stuck in the toddler years? Here’s my advice on preventing toddler meltdowns.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net