How to Build Strong Relationships with Our Teens

How do we build a healthy relationship with our teen? It is during this tumultuous time in your life that he needs our presence and support. A solid relationship between you and your teen may just be the saving grace that keeps him from giving way to the pressure and stress that he can be faced with.

Here are some tips to help you as you parent your teen:

–          Love your teen and let him know.  We know that teens don’t want to be smothered with our affection. However, an assurance of your unconditional love will provide a strong foundation for your relationship with your teen. This can be seen in simple gestures such as a funny cartoon taped on his lunchbox, an outing that involves just you and him (doing something that he likes) or being there to listen to him when he needs to talk.

–          Take or make opportunities to talk and listen. Initiate “side by side” activities, where you and your teen are doing something together. These can be opportunities for you to turn casual talks into more serious talks and to let you get to know more about your teen. Share the experiences you have, particularly of your days as a teen, which can be something he can relate to. Also, start listening to your teen and not simply lecturing him. The time you invest and these talks are just one of the ways that tell your teen you love him. 

–          Be your teen’s go-to resource. Show your teen that he is free to ask you honest questions.  If you are closed about some topics, your teen may turn to other “sources” such as the Internet and his peers. These topics can range from relationships, sex, addictions, cutting and problems with school. Do try not to do this in a lecturing tone. Rather, let him ask questions and answer them in a non-judging, matter-of-fact manner.

–          Encourage him to discover his gifts and help him cultivate them. This can be in the area of sports, the arts or music. Give him the support he needs as he discovers extracurricular activities that he enjoys. This can be in the form of lessons, driving him to practices, being there for his games and letting him know that you are proud of his efforts and achievements.

–          Allow your teen to make mistakes. As long as it is safe and reasonable, let him make his decisions and face the consequences of these decisions. Do not give in to the temptation of trying to shield him from the consequences. Rather, use these situations as learning opportunities.

–          Laugh and play with your child. Show him how you are able to face challenging situations with a healthy sense of humor. Go camping, fishing or any other activity you both enjoy. Paint the garage or do a DIY project together.

–          Establish boundaries within an atmosphere of respect. Respect is mutual. Even as you expect respect from your teen, you should also treat him respectfully. Within this atmosphere of respect for each other, establish boundaries and ground rules for the home and consistently implement these.

–          Get help. Let us face it. We are not the perfect parents we would like to be. And even with our best efforts, our teens will most likely test the boundaries and even grossly overstep these boundaries. If your teen is exhibiting behaviors that are risky, rebellious, and troublesome and that pose a danger to himself or others, it may be time to get some professional help. When you have exhausted all options and your teen continues with his dangerous behavior, getting him into a troubled teen program may be what he needs. Sometimes, the teen needs to be taken outside of his present situation to give him the opportunity to process his feelings and behavior. Something short term like a teen summer camp can give this breather. Meanwhile, a troubled teen boarding school is an ideal solution for teens who have deeper issues to deal with.


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