Trying to have a positive relationship with your teen can sometimes feel like an impossible task.
It’s an interesting time for the family dynamic when the parent/child relationship shifts, as a child transitions into adolescence.
Teenagers are going through hormonal changes. On top of that, they have to deal with pressures from school, relationships, friendships, and everything in between.
But maintaining a positive and close relationship with your teenager can actually help them to get through some of these issues.
If your teen doesn’t always want to talk or open up, you might be ignoring other opportunities to make your relationship stronger. With that in mind, let’s look at a few ways you can encourage a more positive relationship with your teen.
1. Remember Your Roles
When your child finally becomes a teenager, you might start to think you can shift your role and become their friend. However, that shouldn’t be the case. They’ll make plenty of friends in their lifetime, but they will always need their parents.
It’s your responsibility to guide them and prepare them for the real world as much as possible. They might not always like this because it can feel like you're being strict or smothering them. So, try to be compassionate with your guidance.
Explain to your teen why you’re doing the things you do. If they understand that your “strict” nature is for their benefit because you love them and you explain that clearly, they’re less likely to put up a fight.
2. Listen to What Your Teen Has to Say
Listening is one of the best things you can do to improve your relationship with your teenager. They might not always want to spill everything about what’s going on in their lives. But they may drop hints here and there.
They may also casually bring up something that is actually quite serious. Though, instead of immediately jumping in with your opinions or advice, just listen. You can learn a lot about the kind of person your teen is when you take the time to engage with them and hear what they have to say.
3. Give Your Teen Space
Teenagers practically live for independence. That can be a hard fact for a parent to accept. Yet, giving your teenager space and respecting their boundaries will improve your relationship.
When you do give them more independence, you’re giving them the opportunity to learn and grow. They will undoubtedly make mistakes. But they’ll have the opportunity to learn from those mistakes so they won’t make bigger ones in the future.
4. Tell Your Teen What You Expect
Teenagers won’t always follow the rules, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lay them out. In fact, it’s essential to make the expectations you have for your teen and your family as clear as possible.
Does that automatically mean your teen will obey? No. But if you make those expectations clear enough, they’ll be on your teenager’s mind and serve as a moral compass for their decisions.
5. Recognize and Praise Your Teen
Self-esteem and a lack of confidence is a huge problem for many teenagers. You might automatically be on the lookout for what your teen is doing wrong. But also try to focus just as much on what they’re doing right.
When they deserve recognition for something, give it to them. Tell them you’re proud of the way they handled a certain situation or how mature it was of them to ask the right questions, etc.
Not only will this help to boost their confidence, but it will encourage them to continue those smart habits and behaviors. And that will strengthen your bond and the trust between you.
6. Encourage Family Time
This might sound a little cliche, but actually designating time together to do things as a family will make your relationship stronger and more positive. It doesn't have to be anything grandiose. Simply go on a bike ride or a family walk. Have dinner together. Cook together.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re devoting that time to each other and not allowing yourself to get distracted with other things.
If you’re struggling to maintain a positive relationship with your teenager, you’re not alone. By using some of the aforementioned tips, you can foster a better relationship through these critical years.
However, if you’re still having trouble connecting, family therapy might be the solution. Feel free to contact me for more information about family therapy and how it can be beneficial for you and your teenager.