Trying to connect with teens often feels like hugging a hedgehog.
Despite their increased desire for independence and privacy, tweens and teens need their parents support as much as ever. But how can parents stay connected between all of the eye rolls, closed doors and one word answers?
Connecting with tweens and teens requires a softer approach than what worked in the elementary school years. Here are five things to try:
5 Ways to Connect With Tweens and Teens
1. Notice the best time to talk
This is usually not first thing in the morning or right after school. Teens tend to be sleep-deprived, so it takes time for them to feel awake and ready to interact in the mornings. School days are exhausting, so most need downtime before they are ready to share.
2. When they share with you, take it seriously
Listen, empathize, and share a time that you felt the same way at that age. There is no better way to connect than making sure someone feels heard and understood.
3. Share your love and support often
Tweens and teens long for acceptance and belonging. Be sure they feel a true sense of belonging at home as well as an important part of your family. Instead of “Are you OK?,” say “I can tell you are a little off today. Let’s find time to talk.”
4. Show interest in their life and activities
Ask open-ended questions about their world, such as, “What was the best part of your day?” and “Was the most difficult part of your day?” Allow teens to vent without giving advice or passing judgment.
5. Make time to hang out one-on-one
Visit a coffee shop or another favorite spot a couple times a month simply to spend some time together.
For more ideas to connect with teens, here’s a great article by Phyllis L. Fagell, titled “How to Talk to Your Middle Schooler (so they might actually listen to you)” that recently appeared in the Washington Post. Please share other ideas that have worked for your family too!