During the teenage years, it can be challenging for parents to stay connected in the ways they were before. A lot of teenagers communicate less with parents and spend more time with friends. And in today’s world, more likely than not, their phone is front and center to their world (and their faces). All of these changes can make it harder to bond with the teen in your life. Here are some easy ways to work to continue to connect with your teenager.
- Eat family meals together when possible. While preparing and eating the meal, try to engage your teen in general questions about their lives. Discuss your upcoming plans, things going on in your family, and school and social dynamics happening with your child. If possible, make your family meals a “no phone” time so you can really focus on spending quality time together.
- Invite your teenager’s friends over often. Friendships are central to a teenager’s life. If you want them home more AND want to see what they are doing with their free time (without always feeling like you have to pry), invite their friends to your house. Have an assortment of teen-friendly snacks and beverages and a place they can gather in your house to keep them entertained.
- Play games and conversation starters together. Find some fun games that your teenager still enjoys and play together. Board games, card games, or trivia/question games can really get your child talking and having fun with you. Get Best Trivia Teens Questions here and enjoy the discussions you have with your growing child.
- Be available when your teen wants to talk. We all know that teenagers can stay up all night and sleep in all day when given the chance. Although that schedule doesn’t work for most parents, if your teen comes in late at night and wants to talk, be willing to stay up and listen. Instead of offering your own advice when they are talking, just continue to listen first and validate their feelings without offering help (unless they ask).
- Make a date with your teen. Plan something once or twice a month that you both enjoy doing together. This is an easy and natural way to connect with your teen. Chances are great that they will be more willing to open up to you about any problems or concerns they have when you start having fun or relaxing together. Activity items include:
- Manicures or pedicures
- Going out for dinner at your favorite place
- Going shopping
- Rock wall climbing
- Shooting basketball hoops
- Going for a hike
- Visiting your favorite book store
- Volunteering together at a local animal shelter
- Attending a concert or community event
- Going camping
The important thing is that you are finding one or two ways to consistently connect and open up the lines of communication with your teenager. They will notice and appreciate your efforts, even though they may not say it out loud. Continue to work to connect with your child as they are growing and changing.