It can be tough to bond and keep the lines of communication open with your teenager. They're going through many changes and may not always be receptive to your efforts to connect with them. But it's especially important, at these times, to maintain a strong relationship with your teen and continue to find ways to strengthen your bond. Here are some tips and information on building and maintaining a strong relationship with your teen.
Think back to the time of your own adolescents. Being a teenager is fraught with big changes, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It can be a sensitive and overwhelming time as teens navigate the line between childhood and adulthood. Teenagers are trying new roles, figuring out who they are in the world, making close friends, developing romantic interests, and stepping outside their primary relationships with family. It can be a tough but exciting time for them. And for you. They're moody, they're hormonal, and they seem to be constantly testing your limits.
Your teen may choose to spend more time with their peers, which may make you feel as if your teen is moving away from you emotionally and physically. However, this is just one way that they are creating independence and preparing for their foray into adulthood. And it is completely normal. It might feel as if their peer group has become more central to them than you are at this juncture in their lives. Peer groups often provide opportunities in which adolescents can learn, clarify, and maintain norms for social behaviors as well as practice these behaviors. Peer relationships provide a context in which children learn critical social-emotional skills, such as empathy, cooperation, and problem-solving strategies. Despite that, there are plenty of ways to bond with your teenager and build a strong parent-child relationship.
Tips for maintaining a strong bond with your teen
- Make your teen a priority-Adolescents need their parents more than they may let on. Be available to talk with them, even though they don't always want to talk to you. Check-in with them regularly and let them know you are there for them no matter what.
- Show them that they are loved-Adolescents need to know that they're loved and that their parents are there for them. Show your teenager affection and tell them often how much you love them. They may leave the room or act like they don't want it, but they still need your love and support.
- Spend time with them-Create, space and time together. This can be as simple as going to a movie, walking in the neighborhood, or having a meal together. Spending quality time together will help you feel closer to your teen and vice versa.
- Take an interest in their everyday lives- Ask them about their day, activities, and friends. Teenagers want to know that their parents are interested in their lives. Take an interest in their hobbies. If they are into sports, go to their games or matches. If they are into music, go to their concert. Showing up for them will let them know you care about them and are interested in their lives.
- Be Patient- What do you do when your once-sweet child suddenly turns into a sullen, moody adolescent? It can be tempting to throw in the towel and give up on them. But don't despair; it is happening to thousands of parents out there. Teens are going through many changes and may not always be receptive to their parents' attempts to connect with them. Be patient and understand that they're just going through a phase. There are still plenty of ways to connect with your teen and improve your relationship.
- Don't give up on them-Teens may push their parents away at times, but it's important to not give up on them. They still need your love and support, even if they don't always show it.
- Give them space-Teens are learning to "be" their own person. They need time and space to uncover themselves as separate beings from their families. Honor their need for privacy and allow them to set their boundaries. As a parent, it's important to give them that space and not try to control everything. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. It's the only way they're going to grow up into responsible adults.
Your teen may undergo many changes, but with patience and understanding, you can still maintain a close relationship with them. Remember, there are a lot of challenges that come with adolescence. Teens who feel smothered by their parents are more likely to rebel and act out, pushing you further away from them and potentially damaging the relationship. Teens who are given space and a healthy amount of independence are more likely to be responsible and successful. The goal is to build a strong bond with your teen and to keep it.
Adolescence does not last forever, but your relationship with your child does
This, too, shall pass. It is normal for teenagers to distance themselves from family and find new importance in peer relationships.
Teens need space to discover themselves as people separate from their families.
Your teen needs to know that you love and value them.
Teens are trying to figure out who they are and what they believe in.
Teens with a healthy amount of independence are more likely to be responsible and successful.