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HomeArticles7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Teen

7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Teen

Teens with attentive, communicative parents who spend time with them exhibit better health through decreased levels of stress, depression, anxiety and fewer incidences of substance abuse and unintended pregnancy.

That’s the conclusion from a recent study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The study also confirms that a strong connection to parents is also linked to teenagers’ greater feelings of optimism, healthier romantic relationships, and reduced suicide risk through young adulthood.

To build a stronger bond with your teen, consider implementing the tips following these seven questions:

1. Have you connected with your teen today?

Make connecting with your teen part of your daily routine. Identify the most natural time to connect, like after school or during dinner, and intentionally check in. Ask specific, open-ended questions about their day to foster more meaningful responses.

Sometimes, it’s easier for kids to open up when they don’t have to look directly at you. Going for a walk together, driving in the car or doing chores together may make it easier for them to talk to you.

2. Are you a being a good listener?

Being in the same room with your teen isn’t enough. Demonstrate active listening by putting away electronics and focusing on your teen. For a more meaningful conversation, pay attention to their non-verbal cues and ask good follow-up questions. Even if your child doesn’t share their emotions daily, regularly setting aside time creates an opportunity for them to open up when they’re ready.

3. Do you make your teen feel competent?

When teens confide in you, avoid trying to solve their problems for them. Offering solutions prematurely can make them feel incapable. Instead, actively listen, ask relevant questions, and empower them to identify their emotions while they consider constructive solutions to the issues they’re facing.

4. Are you overly critical?

Everyone makes mistakes. Resist the urge to comment on them. This includes offering suggestions for improvement. You may think you’re being helpful when you provide “coaching” after a school event or athletic contest – but your teen is likely to perceive it as criticism.

5. Are you engaging in their interests?

Taking an interest in your teen’s hobbies and passions provides ample opportunities to connect. Make time to attend their games or performances. Let them choose the music in the car or a show you can watch together during the weekend. Engage in their favorite hobbies with them. Ask them to teach you about their hobbies – you’ll be surprised by how much they know that you don’t.

6. When is the last time your drove your teen and their friends somewhere?

One of the easiest ways to learn what’s going on in your teen’s world, is to offer to be the chauffeur for them and their friends. Listen to what they talk about while they’re in the car. You’ll learn what’s happening at school, what they’re excited about, and what they may be worried about.

7. Have you talked to your teen about other healthy adults they can go to for help or advice?

Teens won’t always want to talk with their parents – that’s normal. Help your child identify safe adults who they can talk to when they face problems they’re not comfortable discussing with you. This could be other family members, close family friends, teachers, coaches or clergy.

By integrating these simple yet intentional practices into your daily routine, you can foster a strong relationship with your teen that will have a lasting positive impact in their life.

Nikki Kontz
Nikki Kontz
Nikki Kontz is the clinical director of Teen Lifeline, a Phoenix-based, nonprofit dedicated to preventing teen suicide in Arizona. Contact her at 602-248-8337.



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