From the moment they’re born, the needs and developmental stages of children change rapidly. Just as you think you’ve figured out one stage, you find the dynamics have shifted. And you need to readjust your approach.
With each year, your child becomes a little more independent. When they reach adolescence, your relationship with them may need even more readjustment than during earlier years.
It’s normal for family relationships to be stormy during this age. But it’s still crucial to try to maintain a good relationship with your teen.
Of course, the constant need of your children, no matter their age, is love and a strong example of what healthy relationships look like. As exasperating as they can be, this need remains true for teenagers.
If your relationship with your teen is less than smooth, how can you improve it?
Recognize Their Strengths
No one likes to hear about their mistakes and failures all the time. It’s easy for parents to fall into this habit, however.
Parents naturally worry about making sure their teens are prepared for adulthood. They want to provide direction and ensure lessons are taught before the kids are out the door. But to a teen, this can sound like nagging and feel like an attempt to control them.
You may need to take a step back. Look for the good in your teens and point that out to them. Praise them for their efforts. Play to their strengths and ask for their help. Honor their interests and find a way to get involved.
Set A Good Example
It can be hard for your teens to take you seriously if your behavior spins out of control when you have conflicts with them. While it can seem impossible, practice trying to remain calm and collected during your interactions with your teen.
Model the type of behavior you’d like to see. Remember, you’re the adult here. If you end up yelling, raging, slamming doors, and giving in to petty name-calling, how is your teen supposed to learn to behave any differently? If you recognize problems in this area within yourself please consider our parenting class, Love and Logic. You’ll learn how not to react but, rather, how to respond in a way that gives your teen choices and consequences. Crossroads offers Love and Logic parenting classes alternating with our Teen DBT Therapy Group throughout the year.
Apologize and ask for forgiveness when you make mistakes. Treat other family members and your friends respectfully. Don’t give your teen an excuse to call you a hypocrite!
Spend Time Together
Increasing school demands, the draw of friendships, activities, and possibly part-time work often fill your teen’s life to the brim. Likely, your own life is full of similar things. But it’s just as important during these years to spend time together, just as it was when they were little.
Your time together doesn’t have to involve elaborate plans or special events. Just be there for them and with them.
Even if you aren’t a gamer, you could learn to play their favorite video game with them. Or find other ways to show them you’re interested in what they do. Bake their favorite desserts together or play silly card games and board games. Show them pictures and videos from when they were little.
Don’t Force Conversation
As mentioned above, there are so many topics parents worry about when it comes to their teens. You want to make sure they know about the dangers of drug use and drinking. You want to ensure they have an appropriate understanding of romantic relationships and sexuality. And you want to make sure they keep up their grades and prepare for the future.
Understandably, they may resist having these conversations with you.
Thus, sitting down for big heart-to-heart conversations isn’t usually the best way to broach these topics with your teens. Instead, try to work in snippets and stories during casual conversation. Work in bits and pieces here and there over time.
Reach Out For Help
Sometimes, you just can’t seem to improve your relationship with your teen no matter your efforts. Maybe their struggles are bigger than you feel capable of handling. Or you might have concerns about depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.
Reaching out for help can be one of the best things you do for your teen.
If you feel like you’re in this place, I encourage you to contact Crossroads to find out about our teen counseling and family counseling services. We specialize in working with teens and families. And we have witnessed many parents and teens finding a way to reconcile differences and move forward together.
Feel free to call contact us at Crossroad’s Counseling by calling 623-680-3486, texting 623-688-5115, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to speak with one of our counselor’s about Teen Counseling and/or Family Counseling. We offer a 20 minute complementary phone call. You can ask all the questions you have and see if one of our therapists is the right fit for you.