Teenagers…They can be a pain, in the you-know-what…. From whining to self-centeredness to know-it-all attitude to a sense of entitlement that they project in every interaction with the parents…These are just a few of the side effects of teenagers being around the house. Teenage-hood, or the time in a human lifespan defined between the ages of 13 to 19, can be one of the most challenging times for both the teen and the parent. While some of the rough around the edges interactions are inevitable like in any personal relationship, here are a few tips on how to minimize and enhance your relationship with your teen.
1. Read to them.
They might be too old for fairy tales (although you would be surprised) but reading anything from novels to Wall Street Journal articles can benefit the bond between you and your teenager.
2. Show some affection.
It can be as simple as a pat on the back but better yet, hug, kiss and strive for connecting with your teen through touch. It decreases cortisol or stress hormone in you and your teen–leading to an improved ability to communicate.
3. Show respect.
Talk to them as if you were talking to an adult. Of course, they are not fully developed (neither physically nor psychologically), but giving your teen respect and fair treatment, as you would do to any adult, will improve your communication.
4. Eat meals together.
Make it a ritual of breaking bread together. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner eating together as a family is one of the most important points of having an opportunity to connect with your teenager. Although, if you never had meals together before, don’t force serious topics. Actually, it is never a good idea to force a heavy-duty topic onto mealtime–it interferes with digestion 😉
5. Be a mentor.
As a parent, you are uniquely qualified to be an adviser to your teenager. Your experience in your field of work is a valuable resource for a young person. The key is not to be dictatorial and impose your ideas and ways. Listen as a friend and be open-minded. Being there in the role of a mentor can help your teen to maximize their potential and discover their passion especially related to career paths.
6. Play together.
Work, chores, and life often get in the way of play-time. Make sure you have regular (at least weekly) sessions of doing fun activity together. It can be anything from tossing a frisbee in the park to a walk down the street to watching a TV show series together.
7. Give them choices.
Part of a good relationship with your teen is respect. Giving them a choice is showing respect. Your teen may not like the options offered but providing him or her with alternatives teaches compromise. For example, Saturday chores such as tidying up the garage, watering plants, grooming a dog are expected in exchange for keeping car insurance on our son’s vehicle.
8. Give them chores.
Teenagers are quite capable of routine home chores. He or she should be expected to pitch in doing dishes, keeping common areas free of clutter as well as having a full responsibility for cleaning own room, doing laundry and bathrooms. Having regular house chores teaches your teen responsibility and the importance of fair contribution to the family’s operation. When a teen knows chores are expected many arguments are automatically eliminated between parents and their kids.
9. Start early.
And this is a key point. Don’t wait to build a relationship and utilize the strategies of 1-8 till your offspring is a teen. Act preemptively and build the rituals of connectedness, goodwill and good relationship in advance of the teenage years.
While relationships with teenagers can be challenging at times, it is important to remember the big picture. They are with you just for few years before sailing off into the adulthood. A good relationship between you and your teenager sets a solid base for all of his or her future relationships with others. As a parent you are in the position of privilege of shaping a kind, responsible and happy human being. Embrace it and make it as good of a relationship as you can. <3