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.

Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #298

In our house, we always have household projects that require one or more set of teen hands to complete. I look at these times as golden opportunities to spend a few unexpected moments with my kids.  Last week we started switching out their summer clothes to warmer outfits and that chore led to fun conversations about our recent vacation to Disney World.

I wasn't expecting to hear my 18-year-old son reminisce about dinner in Cinderella's Castle, but within a couple minutes of packing away the bathing suits, he started reliving some funny things that happened during that dinner (believe me, 5 sons sitting in Cinderella's Castle is a sight to behold!) Well, before long we were all laughing and having a great time together. 

Those unexpected moments are priceless and can happen when you least expect them, so take advantage of the mundane tasks around your house to facilitate a little bonding.

Tip #4:  Invite Your Teen Into Your World

It's appropriate for teens to want to spend more time with their peers than their parents. But kids who are well grounded in their families tend to respond well to parents' efforts to stay connected.  This means you as the parent have to make a constant effort to keep your teen connected to your world.

Our children need to rely on us emotionally until they’re ready to depend on themselves, so it's crucial to keep the lines of communication open.  Invite them to come to you whenever they're feeling stressed and need to work through a problem - no matter how serious or small. 

See also: 10 Healthy Habits That Strengthen Your Family (Part 1) and (Part 2)


Topics like sex, alcohol and drugs, depression, bullying - these are issues that teens live with every day (more so nowadays because of social media).  If they know that you're willing to be a good listener and are in their corner, you'll have a far better chance of them coming home to get help rather than looking for it elsewhere. 

I remind my kids on a very regular basis that there is nothing they can't come talk to me about.  I don't make promises that I will condone their actions or will have the answers to all their problems, but I make it very clear that they will never have to deal with these situations alone because my door is always open.   

Tip #5:  Nix the Nagging

Fess up, are you a nagger?  Most parents would agree that the one thing that really drives them crazy is asking, and asking, and asking again for their kids to do some simple task.  When the task doesn't get completed within a reasonable time schedule, we lose our patience and that's when we start letting loose with unpleasant commentary otherwise known as nagging. 

We all know that nagging is about as effective as scraping nails on a chalkboard - it's unpleasant to listen to and it's a surefire way to drive those you care about far, far away.

See also: 7 Simple Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen


One way to get closer to your teen is to quit the nagging and replace it with a different approach. Persistent gentle reminders will get things done, better, faster, and with less stress. Think kindness rather than anger and patience rather than barking out orders. 

Easier said than done, right?  Not necessarily. 

A few years ago, unbeknownst to me, one of my kids videotaped me when I was having a fit about the dishes not being done.  When she shared the video with me, and the rest of the family, I was mortified.  Although I had every right to expect the dishes to be done after asking about it at least 6 times, my nagging approach made me sound like a pathetic lunatic. What's worse, it was clear that everyone was tuning me out. 

That moment left a lasting impression on me; so much so that I made a pact with myself to nix the nagging once and for all.  Now I ask once for a job to be done and if it's not done in a timely manner, I simply go to the child responsible for the trask and quietly, matter-of-factly remind them of their responsibility. Failure to comply results in the addition of an extra chore besides the one that wasn't accomplished.  In our house, silence is now golden!

See also: 5 Ways to Speak Positively to Children


What are some ways that help you stay connected with your teen? Share your thoughts in the Comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.>

Frustrated mom with teen and other images courtesy of Shutterstock.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.