The transition from childhood into adulthood isn’t an easy one — for you or your child. If you find your relationship with your teen challenging, check out these tips.
They will help you improve the situation and get along with each other a little better.
Keep your reactions in check
Dr. Sarah Brandigampola, M.D., a psychiatry resident at The Ottawa Hospital, explains that the best thing you can do to improve your relationship with your teen is simply to listen. Although your first reaction when your teen says something that worries you might be to jump in with your cautions or recommendations, that won’t help foster your relationship. Instead, Brandigampola advises that you listen to all your teen’s thoughts from beginning to end so you can hear the full story. From there you can work together to solve the problem as a team. When your teen feels heard rather than judged, she’s more likely to respond in a positive way, and your bond can grow from there.
Here are more ways to talk so your teen listens >>
Avoid the “just because” reason
Has your teen ever asked why things are a certain way (e.g., when her curfew is or why he’s being punished) and you responded with some variation of “because that’s how it is”? As a parent you have the right to enforce rules that will help keep your kids safe and learn valuable life lessons, but when you enforce something without explaining the logic of it, teens will see your decision as “unfair” rather than accept and learn from it. Very few things in life happen “just because.” You stop at a red light to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. You avoid walking in dangerous places late at night because your chances of falling into harm’s way are lessened. The real world is full of reasons, not “just becauses.” Although your teen might not like your decision, if you at least explain to him where you’re coming from, a bit of that logic is likely to sink in.
Check out these fun ways to connect with your teen >>
Find a balance between togetherness and independence
Dr. Brandigampola advises that it’s normal for teens to question rules and family values. For example, your teen might have once loved going shopping with you, but now she’d rather go with her friends. As teens struggle to find their independence and where they fit in the adult world, it’s natural for them to pull away from those things you once shared. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still seek your love and approval; they just might not be quite as overt about it as they once were. So even though your daughter wants to go shopping on her own, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to show you what she bought to see what you think. By giving your teenager time to do his or her own thing while also taking an interest in what they enjoy, you can find a healthy balance.