How to stay connected with your teen
In the early teen years, your child will become increasingly busy with their school work, friends and extra-curricular activities. This is an exciting time for your child as they discover their independence, develop their own identity and learn responsibility. Staying connected with your teen while they go through this important phase can improve their self-esteem and confidence, and help them do better at school. Here’s some tips for staying connected with your teen:
When you have some time together, try to start up a casual and positive conversation with your teen. Ask them about their friends, school, interests or the shows and movies they have been watching. When your teen is talking, you can show them they have your full attention by keeping eye contact and mirroring their expressions and movements. You’ll probably naturally smile and nod when they do, or will find yourself frowning slightly if they are frowning. This is great, as it shows them you’re really listening to what they have to say.
When having a conversation with your teen, try not to judge what they are telling you – just listen to what they have to say. Try not to jump in and solve their problems, instead ask your teen questions about what they think and feel about the situation and help them identify their own solutions. This will make your teen feel like you value their thoughts and opinions, and increase their self-confidence and ability to solve their own problems. Being available and listening without judgment will help your child understand that you are there for them when they want a chat and can give them advice or guidance if they want.
Spend time together
Your teen will still value spending quality one-on-one time with you. This special time together will boost their confidence and help you stay connected with your teen. You could organise to do something special together, like going out to a café or the movies – or you can have some special time together doing simple activities. Perhaps you could go for a walk around the block, or have afternoon tea together at the kitchen bench.
Welcome their friends
Your child’s social circle may be changing in these early adolescent years. Where possible, try to encourage your teen to invite their friends to drop in for social and study visits so you can get to know them. By welcoming their friends, you will help to build your teen’s confidence and their social skills.
Your teen will be learning to express their independence, and they’re probably moodier now than when they were young. So it is likely that there will be times when you disagree, or feel hurt or worried by your teen’s behaviour. The good news: it is just a phase! Try to be patient with your teen – stay calm, and don’t take their ‘teen attitude’ personally. They will grow out of it eventually!
Positive interactions strengthen your relationship with your teen. Let your teen know when you notice them making responsible choices and demonstrating positive behaviour. Your praise and approval can encourage them to keep doing the right things in the future, boost their self-esteem and help them to do better at school.
The early adolescent years can be a special time to foster a positive relationship with your child and pave the foundation for a stronger connection during the high school years.