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5 Effective Ways to Connect With Your Teen

It may often seem impossible to get through to your moody teenager. Mighty Mommy shares 5 effective relationship builders that can help you build a connection with the teen in your life.

By
Cheryl Butler,
Episode #298

As your child morphs into a teenager, you will see dramatic changes in personality, moods, relationships, and self-esteem.  Many parents struggle with their teen's defiant attitudes as well, and wonder if they'll ever be able to build and sustain a positive and nurturing relationship with so many unpredictable changes taking place.

At times, it may seem impossible, but there are many ways to connect with your teen. And ironically, it's the simple, everyday moments that will make a difference.  Mighty Mommy currently has 4 teens in her home - each with his and her own quirks and needs.

So here are 5 effective relationship builders that you can put into practice with the teens in your life:

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Tip #1: Check in Every Day

Parents are teens' biggest influencers when it comes to learning values, respect, and relationship skills. 

When our kids are babies, toddlers, and young children we spend countless hours caring for them, kissing boo-boos, reading, helping with homework, and cheering them on at their first soccer games. But as they hit their tween and teen years, many of those comforting rituals and daily interactions begin to fade away or take a much different form because teens tend to exert more independence from their parents.

But don't be fooled. This does not mean they don't crave our attention and closeness. They just won't admit it. So find a time to check-in with your teen every day. 

Early evening is a good time because you can casually chat about what's going on at school or with their part-time job while the dishes are being done. If this works for your family, that's great. However, for many of us, my family included, this can be tricky because everyone is on different schedules due to sports, after-school activities, and the various commitments that continually crop up.

So instead, I connect with my teens before school.  I get up earlier than the rest of my family so I can get my day started without being rushed.  I take 15 minutes or so to spend talking to my kids about what they have on tap for the day at school, what's happening at practice after school, news about their friends and school projects.   That 15 minutes every morning is routine for us, and my kids have come to rely on it. It helps keep us grounded when we're all going in different directions all week long.

Tip #2: Connect Via Text

With cell phones a major part of nearly every teen's life, texting throughout the week is a no brainer. 

When my kids were younger, one of my favorite ways to let them know I was thinking about them was to leave little love notes in their lunchboxes or backpacks.  Now that most of my kids are teens and would be humiliated if a note from their mother fell out of their lunch bag (especially one with hearts and hugs and kisses written all over it!), I do the next best thing - I text.

See also: Kids and Technology

 

I pick and choose when to send my "I'm thinking of you" messages so as not to make them feel stalked. But I definitely send 2-3 quick texts to each of my teens throughout the week so they feel my presence.  If someone has a major test, for instance, I'll text them wishing them good luck beforehand; same goes for a sports game they might be playing in or even just a random "Hope your day is going great. Love, Mom" kind of text. 

If you text with your teen, don't expect much in the way of a reply. Usually my kids will respond with a simple "OK" or "See you when I get home." That's all you can ask for at this age. But even if they don't reply, they know I'm thinking about them and I'm just a few keystrokes away.

Additionally, for a few of my kids who are a bit more introverted, texting gives them an easier way to communicate that doesn't involve lots of talking about their feelings.

Tip #3:  Unite with a Chore

Family meals offer endless opportunities for connecting with your kids.  There is something comforting and disarming about gathering around the kitchen table and eating a hearty meal, laughing, and talking. But let's face it, many families find it increasingly difficult to share regular meals together due to the logistics of our busy schedules. 

So if breaking bread together isn't always possible, find another opportunity to spend with your teen on a regular basis. I recommend a weekly tidying up of the house, or folding laundry together, or even making school lunches for the younger kids (if you have any). 

See also: How to Get Kids to Help Out With Chores

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