Without warning, it happens. Kids crush the laps on which they once nestled. Their predictable moods have transitioned to look more like the spin cycle of a washing machine.
And their preference on when and how they communicate with others, particularly the parents, can sometimes feel like trying to read an outdated map in a foreign country.
Parents can find themselves baffled as to how to reach this person evolving through adolescence. Though we never quite “arrive” when it comes to figuring out our teens, there are some strategies that seem to help.
Here are 5:
1. Do an activity together.
Teens, especially boys, are much more comfortable talking side to side than face to face. Riding up a chairlift, being the passenger in the car while he/she drives, or outdoor activities like hiking or snowshoeing are prime opportunities for kids to open up. If they don’t, no matter, just relax and have fun with your teen. The goal is tying your heart string to theirs, even if there are no words. Some favorites of ours include family basketball in the driveway, racing down ski runs, and running a mock Olympic games.
2. Play Card Games.
There is a reason our grandparents spent hours at the Bridge table… it’s fun! And it build relationships. Poker for M & M’s tends to be a favorite, as does Spoons, and Speed. For board games, Chess, Settler’s of Catan, and Origin are popular choices in our family.
3. Feed Them.
A lot. Kids feel loved and cared for when you take care of their basic need of food! When teens are around, I raid my refrigerator for anything and everything I can put out for them (especially my nephews)! For this reason, even though my daughter is fully capable of making her own breakfast, I like to get up and make it for her as an act of love and service. During card games, I’ll put out chips and salsa. Movie? Popcorn! You get the idea…
4. Find a Common Interest.
It’s the new year and my daughter decided she wanted to try clean eating. I was THRILLED, as this is the way I try to eat most of the time. We’ve made it “our thing” –collecting recipes, cooking together, and planning the week. Last year she begged me to watch a fun TV series with her. This was a sacrifice because I tend not to be a TV watcher (too much of a do-er). It paid off in time spent snuggling on the couch, and she felt loved that I would take the time out of my day. The picture below shows us antiquing. Sometimes finding a common interest means, as parents, we intentionally choose to learn about an area in which our teen is interested.
5. Unplug. Everyone.
I know this is a message heard in every nook and cranny, but I have to include it here also. The little devices we hold prevent so many real-life moments from happening. Regardless of pushback, and you will get it, declare certain times or places as “no phone” zones. We must be careful to model this well, putting our devices and computers away when we are with others. It may require some courage to set some new standards in regards to technology. Even if teens are upset at first, they will adjust and you will find that connecting is easier.
Though kids are independent during the teen years, staying connected is paramount to their stability and success.
How do you connect with your teen?