Five Ways to Build a Strong Relationship With Your Teen

Raising an adolescent is tough.  Some say that with the current technology challenges and the current media models, raising an adolescent now is tougher than it has ever been.  When it comes to dealing with some of the big issues like drug and alcohol use, it is really easy to get stuck in the trap of mistrust and negativity on both sides.  Mistrust can quickly become a habit rather than a fleeting occurrence, and it will quickly erode your relationship with your teen.  There are a number of ways that you can improve your parenting and improve your relationship with your adolescent so that you can start talking about the big issues as he or she continues to grow.

1. Communicate

When you ask questions about what your adolescent is involved in, he or she may think that you are prying because that would be the typical adolescent response.  But if you make it clear that you are asking because you care about the things that he or she is involved in and you are actually interested in what he or she has to say, your point will eventually get across.  They to get involved with some of his or her activities.  Be available for things like fundraising, chaperoning, or simply attending events hosted by your adolescent’s group.  Be supportive of art classes or music lessons or performance art pieces.  And talk about these things a lot.

2. Listen and Respond without Judgment

There are very few things that will make a teenager stop talking faster than judgment and advice when it was not requested.  It is okay for your teen to make mistakes.  Adolescences is the best time for learning and making mistakes.  Making judgments about the mistakes that have already been made is not going to be useful.  When your teen asks you for help, give your honest advice about what can be done now, not what could have been done before.  Listen to him or her talk about discuss what could be done next time if nothing can be done this time. Listening is key to a healthy relationship with your teen.

3. Reflect the Behavior You Expect

It is really easy to give back the kind of behavior that your teen gives to you.  Teenagers often respond to their parents with short responses and curt answers.  You should be polite even when you are dealing with bad behavior.  You should be respectful of your teen’s feeling. He or she may be dealing with some issues that you do not know about.  Or he or she may just be annoyed with you because you are a parent and he or she is a child.  Whatever the cause, there is no reason for you to engage in adolescent behavior.  If there is a behavior problem, treat him or her like a troublesome employee.  Lay out your expectations.  Be very clear about what you expect to see.  Give your child a timeline for the consequences for continuing the behavior.

4. Discipline 

Your teen needs to know that you mean business.  If he or she is exhibiting a behavior that you have already talked about, follow through with your expressed discipline plan.  Your teen will get the hint that you are not joking.  You are right to correct behavior that you think it in appropriate, but always remember to criticize the behavior and not the teen.  Do not tell him or her that he or she is stupid.  Instead say that the behavior he or she exhibited was not smart.  Mention that in the future you expect better because your teen is better.  If you say something that you do not mean in the middle of an argument, apologize for it and correct your mistake.

5. Make Spending Time Together a Routine

When your child was little, he or she was around you all the time.  But now that he or she is older, often more time is spent separately than together.  So you are going to have to make some time specifically for spending together.  Plan a fun weekly outing or a dinner together.  Make cooking something that you can do together.  Even a regular 20 minute car trip for just the two of you can be enough.