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Ways to Connect with Your Teenage Kids

Anger is an all-consuming emotion at times, even more so now as we deal with new situations. If you don’t get a grip on it, it can affect your quality of life. Anger will damage your relationships and raise your stress levels. If anger is beginning to impact your life, start taking steps to control your emotional state.

Remember when your baby woke you up at night for a feeding? Did you think that was a tough part of parenting? Wait until that sweet child of yours turns into a surly teenager! One day, almost every parent will experience the angry reaction of the now teenager. The one where they told you to “leave me alone!”

As a parent, it’s tough when your child appears to be distancing themselves from you. .You may even begin to wonder if your child has issues or if you have done something wrong. Teenage rebellion is usually a child finding their adult identity. Add in raging hormones and the physical transition from child to adult and it becomes a tricky path!
Teenagers can be rude and disrespectful and are apt to say things that hurt. That can make some parents back off and let their kids “get over it”. When a child becomes isolated it can keep you from seeing signs like depression, anxiety. Most teenagers need support and respect during this challenging time. When you stay connected with your kids, it is an enriching experience for both sides.

Here are eight tips to help you connect with your adolescent kids who seem to be trying to push you away.

1. Keep Calm and Keep it In Perspective

It can be challenging being the parent of a teenager. There will be times when you want to scream and pull your hair out, and, yes, you will get angry. No matter how much your teen tries to aggravate you, the best approach is always to remain calm. Otherwise, you will find yourself in an argument that will make things worse. Most things that teens do that wind up their parents are not big deals when you think about it. If your teenage son’s room looks like a bomb hit it, for example, remember that things could be a lot worse. Some parents must deal with way more than an untidy room!

2. Put Yourself in Your Teen’s Shoes

It’s tough being a teenager, too. Part of you wants to stand on your own two feet and be an adult. But another part of you still needs a hug from mom and a few words of reassurance from dad. Teens are trying to navigate a changing relationship with their parents. Try to remember what you wanted to happen when you felt waves of anxiety or anger as a teen. Parents are also learning how to relate to the adult that used to be a child. At times, everyone in the family will need some space to get through this changing landscape.

3. Listen

One of the most common things that parents of teenagers hear is “you don’t understand me,” or “you don’t listen to me.” And, often, the teenagers are right on this point! If you want to stay connected to your teen, then you must be the person they trust to come to with their problems. The only way that you can be that person is to learn how to listen to your kids. Remember, though, you are talking to an adult now, not a child. So, don’t be judgmental. Instead, talk to your young adult in the same way that you would speak to any other adult you care about. Develop a dialogue so subjects like self-esteem issues can be freely discussed.
Have open, listening conversations with your teen. Don’t try to solve the problem right then. Create a way to talk about things in their lives, like bullying, or anger issues. Stop and listen and offer help, not to “fix” it for them.

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4. Do Chores Together

Remember that teenagers are trying to find their feet in the adult world. When your teen resists doing what you tell them to do, they are not always being disrespectful. They could be testing how far they can go.

So, when you bark an order at your teen, they may bite back. Be aware of the difference when you ask them to help you instead of telling them to do something. So, when dad asks his teenage son to help him wash the family car, the young man will likely jump at the chance. Make the “chore” something fun to do, create an atmosphere that isn’t a dreaded time. When you work with adolescent kids it allows them to feel that they are contributing. You are making them a partner in the process with you as an adult. It becomes an excellent opportunity for parents and young adults to bond with each other.

5. Eat Meals Together

When kids are going their own way, they will likely want to spend less time with you than you would like. It’s only natural that teens want to be with their friends more than they want to be with mom and dad, so don’t take it to heart. It can be tricky to insist that a teenager spend more time with their family. When you eat together, you can see if there are signs for things like an eating disorder. Make the mealtime a family get-together time.
Mealtimes are a great time to catch up and discuss anything and everything. And, eating together is an adult thing to do. Make the mealtime an enjoyable break in the day. It’s far more relaxing and fun than many other family gatherings for teens! Make this a time for your young adult to engage in adult conversation with their parents.

6. Don’t Forget to Tell Your Teens That You Love Them.

It doesn’t matter how rebellious your teen gets; they will still need your love and support. So, don’t stop doing the little things that matter for them, because they are growing up. Your seemingly uninterested daughter still appreciates hearing “I love you” from her mom. Your son, who has discovered girls, will love it when he gets home and finds mom made him his favorite food for dinner. Those simple gestures of love are appreciated, no matter how old you get.

7. Let Teens Bring Their New Lives Home

OK, so your teen daughter is not going to be too excited about double dating with mom and dad! If you welcome her boyfriend into your home, you will be able to share a part of your daughter’s new life with her. And it will keep you connected for open communication and dialogue. If you let your teens have their friends over, it makes “their” home a fun place to hang out. It’s much better than thinking of it as a place they have to return to by a certain time. Try not to make it awkward when your kid’s friends visit, though. Your daughter’s first-ever boyfriend does not need an interrogation from you. , and your son’s buddies do not want to hang out with you.

8. Let Teens Lead the Way

One of the things that teens yearn for is being independent. But don’t take that the wrong way, because they still want you there as the safety net. Listen to your teen, as hard as it is,and let them tell you if they need some help. Young adults want to make their own decisions, or at least be a part of the decision-making process. Allow your teen to open up about challenges they are facing. Be supportive if they want to find someone else to talk with, such as a teen counselor.

Give them the ability to make even small family choices. Ask your teen to suggest where the family goes out to a restaurant instead of telling them where you are going. Show an interest in a sport or past time that your teen enjoys. Ask questions and show an interest and see if you can take part sometime.

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No one can tell anyone else how to be a parent. The above tips might help you stay connected and keep communication open. The crucial thing to make a teen aware that while things change, they will always have a loving family. No matter how independent teens become, there is always a family to offer support. And remember, it is tough being half kid and half adult!

If you need help with teen counseling, our Scottsdale counselors at Pathways Counseling Services are here to work with you and your teen.  Our therapists are trained to help teens grow to be healthier and happier.  We encourage you to schedule an appointment onlinecontact us or call our office at 480-235-1682. We offer a free 15-minute phone consultation.