How to keep the bond strong with your teenager

GHC Social Workers

Teenagers can be challenging. They’re growing, changing, testing boundaries, and figuring out who they are. Your relationship can be complicated, but you can retain strong bonds with your teenage children with the right approach. The ADDitude Magazine website has some tips:

Recognize bids for attention. Your teenager may be moody, but he or she still wants and needs your attention. Be receptive when they ask for your help, suggest an activity, or just want to hang out with you. If you legitimately don’t have time, be honest but acknowledge the request for attention, and suggest a time when you can be there for them.

Identify their love language. Your kids may not say “I love you” all the time, but their actions and gestures can say the same thing. When they offer to help with chores, give you a hug, offer a present, or pay you a compliment, they’re expressing affection—just not in words. Remember to thank them and show your appreciation.

Give them space. Teens want and need privacy as they mature. You may be used to talking about everything, but don’t get upset if your child is uncommunicative sometimes. Be patient. At the same time, watch out for red flags that require you to push for information—if they completely shut down, never leave their room except for meals or school, or are only interested in their screens, it’s time to step in and talk, even if they resist.

Back your teen up. When plans with friends fall through, be there with support. Maybe you can take them to a movie or do something fun, or just talk to them about what happened. Teenagers need to know you’re there for them even if they don’t seem to want to spend time with you most days.

Help them manage their emotions. With hormones raging, teens can sometimes explode when their emotions go into overdrive. Talk to them about mindfulness, exercise, and rest—ways they can prevent strong feelings from taking over and leading to negative actions. Don’t try to control their emotions or teach them to ignore their feelings. Just try to help them understand where they come from so they can respond appropriately.

It can be tough to navigate the complex world of parenting a teenager. You are likely encountering new challenges, questions, and frustrations that you didn’t have with your younger children. But don’t despair! The teen years aren't all bad -- in fact, they're important developmental stages for kids as they work on figuring out who they want to become. Your relationship can change too; it will shift from parent-child dynamics to something more like an adult relationship where you share advice about relationships or talk politics together over coffee after school gets out each day. So how do we help? We believe there is always room for improvement so our Family Connect Program offers regular check-ins by phone to discuss any issues related to academics.