As your child matures from a lovable child to a funny tween to an emo teen you might be missing that relationship you used to have and those three words they used to freely say, “I love you.” You may also miss eye contact and dinners without all of their Snap chat followers. But, even though your teen is asserting their independence and wouldn’t be caught anywhere with you, your teen does still love you. Rather than using words, emoticons, or hashtags, they’ll show you with their actions. So, to help your relationship grow with your amazing teen, here are nine tips.
#1 Own Your Role As The Parent
You are your teen’s guide, not their friend. As your teen’s parent, you are responsible for helping them become an independent and responsible adult that can handle life’s challenges. When interacting with your teen you’ll want to listen, be compassionate, and model good behavior. This will help him/her to mimic these behaviors when they are an adult. You are their moral compass, even if they never thank you for it.
#2 Stay Calm
If your teen is being a basket of handfuls, resolve to remain calm. As your brain becomes more flustered, you will have difficulty thinking and resolving problems, so shortcut this reaction by deciding on your response before an unpleasant reaction occurs. If your teen is known for being disrespectful, lay down the consequences and stick to them. By planning your response beforehand or taking a break if you are losing your cool in the moment, you can make a better decision that will prompt your teen to think about their poor behavior.
#3 Open Your Ears, Not Your Mouth
When your teen approaches you to discuss something that may or may not be bothering them, listen. No matter our age, everyone wants to be heard by a person whose mind is open. Do not interrupt your teen. Like you would with an adult, listen with respect. Nod politely even if don’t agree with a word your teen says because this will open the doors to healthier communication. As your communication grows, your teen will come to you to bounce ideas and problems off of. If they need your advice they will ask for it, but try not to give unsolicited advice. As they air their grievances, take note of any issues they may have with their problem-solving abilities and gently help them figure out the best course of action.
#4 Do Not Overstep Boundaries
As children mature, they seek autonomy. If your child’s open door is now locked, nearly all the time, respect that. Just like you enjoy time to yourself, your teen also does. Privacy is their right, as well. If you do want to come in, always knock first and ask to be let in. Don’t get upset if your teen says no. They may not always want to have company. If you insist they must let you in, this will teach them their privacy and wishes are not important and they may grow up putting others’ desires before their own. Autonomy comes with the territory of maturing. Your teen needs room to grow, make mistakes, learn from them, and become a strong, confident, adult. If you hold on too tight you will stunt their growth. Encourage them in their quest for independence.
#5 Be A Good Role Model
Model the behaviors you want to instill in your teen. If you want them to learn honesty, don’t lie. If responsibility, a relaxed demeanor, resilience, and compassion are traits you value, show your teen how to do this. Remember to discuss the methods you are using to display these traits so your teen doesn’t have to guess how you are doing it.
#6 Ensure Your Teen Adheres To Expectations
You don’t say things just for your teen to ignore them. Going back to #1, your goal is to guide your child. When you communicate your core values that relate to desired behaviors, responsibilities, and other rules, your teen will have boundaries to behave in. Ensure the consequences and rewards are known and stick to each when your teen breaks or follows the rules. This structure will help your teen make healthier decisions later in their life.
#7 Notice The Things Your Teen Is Doing Right
There’s enough negativity In the world for both you and your teen and it can lower your teen’s self-confidence. Don’t add to that tidal wave of negativity. Make every effort to notice the things your teen is doing right and praise them for it. This will strengthen your relationship because your teen will see that you are noticing the good in them and their efforts. With a few kind words, you can increase your teen’s feelings of mastery and self-worth. The more you believe in them, the more they will believe in themselves.
#8 Don’t Act Like A Saint
You may be your teen’s dad but you don’t always know best. You make mistakes, don’t know what to do, and get confused like every other human on this planet. When you are in the wrong, apologize and make every effort to not repeat this behavior. Show your child that there is no perfect person, but people in progress. Make sure your teen knows that self-improvement is the goal.
#9 Subtract The Technologies And Add The Smiles
Schedule some screen less time and laughter. Have your entire family put down all technologies and share a great joke, board game, or meal together. The world may be full of Skype and Hangouts but there’s no substitute for face to face connections.
Your teen still very much looks up to you and values your opinion. This may not ever change. Even adults want to make their parents proud and show them they are grateful for all of their sacrifices. Treat your teen with respect and listen with your entire body. You’ll find they may become less of this eye-rolling, phone-loving, nearly-grown human they are right now and more of that amazing adult they’re careening towards.