Ask any parent and they’ll say that getting their teenager to open up is near impossible.
During the teenage years, the world changes quickly. Their bodies change, they fall in love for the first time, experience heartbreak, face bullies, and a host of other problems that come with age.
From spending hours on social media to texting their friends twenty-four hours a day, your kids can start to shut you out. As parents, you’ve undergone the same experiences and know that things will get easier.
Building trust with your kids will help you break down their walls and connect with them. Having a trusting parent-child relationship will prove to your teenagers that you can be there when they need you.
If you’re having trouble connecting with your teenager, there are a few things you can do to build a strong relationship that’ll help them open up to you and seek you out when things get tough.
Talk Less, Listen More
If you’re curious about what’s going on in your teen’s life, skip the interrogation questions when they walk through the door.
Asking direct questions is not as effective as simply sitting back and listening. Kids are more likely to open up with their parents when they don’t feel pressured to share information.
A small comment about something that happened during the day is usually their way of reaching out, in which case you should stay open and interested but not prying if you want to hear more.
Parents naturally want to use their hard-earned wisdom to solve their children’s problems.
While that works with younger children who depend on their parents to make their decisions for them, teens need to be able to work through problems without being told what to do.
Start by listening to the problem without interrupting them to offer advice or criticism, and treat your teenager as an expert who can guide you on how to best advise them. Work together to come up with a handful of solutions and then discuss the possible outcomes and consequences of these solutions.
These are valuable skills they can use to succeed in their social and professional life.
Validate Their Feelings
It can be tempting to tell your kids to look at the silver lining or tell them that everything will be okay.
However, downplaying their disappointment can come across as being dismissive of their feelings, which can be incredibly harmful during a time when they’re uncertain about a lot of things.
Instead of saying things like “He wasn’t right for you anyway” after a romantic disappointment, try to empathize and show them you understand by commenting something like “ Wow, that does sound difficult.”
Connect With Your Kids With Capital Choice Youth Counselling
Raising teenagers can be a confusing time for parents. One day you’re your child’s favourite person and the next, you’ve been completely shut out from their lives.
We can give you the tools and understanding necessary to reconnect with your kids. Our Ottawa counselling can ease your stress by making your parenting easier and more effective.
Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you build a strong relationship with your kids.