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How to build a better relationship with your teenage years son or daughter

Updated on April 28, 2013

Positive Parenting

There is no doubt that when our children enter their teenage years the parenting relationship becomes more challenging. Oftentimes, as parents, we fall into the myth trap:

Myth one - my teen is deliberately trying to ruin my/our day.

Myth Two - my teen is not able to make a smart decision unless I hover over him/her

Myth Three - my teen does not want to help/hang out with me

There are many more and teens generally seem to get a really bad rap. My daughter wondered aloud why so many adults hate teens. The truth is there are millions of teens out there volunteering, who have great relationships with their parents and friends, do well in school and who are a real pleasure to be around.

I have met some pretty cranky older people who I prefer not to hang out with - that does not make all older people cranky!

So if your relationship with your teen is going through a rocky patch - here are some suggestions about what to do.

1) One of the important lessons I have learned whilst raising my teen and teen to be as well as with the families I work professionally with is to stop talking, stop giving advice and LISTEN. Really, it works. We listen, they feel heard and understood.

2) Ask how you can help and check it out with them rather than offering advice without being asked for it.

3) Remember when he/she was little you would make time to play and be with them? Do the same for your teen. Take them out for a coffee and leave the cell phone at home. Find an activity you both enjoy doing together at home such as cooking or making something and let them take the lead, or invite their suggestions without teaching or being critical when they do it differently from how you would normally do it.

4) Compliment your teen often. Criticize them less.

5) Ask you teen for help making decisions - my daughter has been really helpful when we go shopping and she has given me really good advice about make up and colour too.

6) Take an interest in their interests. You might hate their music but your mum probably hated your music. Finding things to discuss and learn from your teen rather than judging them will open up dinner conversations and opportunities to get closer.

7) Take the time to tuck them up, same as you did when they were small.

8) Create a weekly ritual which is all about you and them spending some quality time (not necessarily quantity time) together without emotional blackmail or making them feel guilty.

9) Tell them you love them every day

10) Apologize when you loose your temper and state clearly how you felt and why.

11) Don't set you and them up to fail by having expectations and not letting them know in advance what you would like to happen.

12) Be realistic - teens are growing, their brains are still evolving and this is the most creative they will ever be.

13) Talk positively about teens and what they have to offer. Encourage your teen to get involved in community and volunteering.

14) Remember that you and your teen are different people and make it OK for them to have different opinions than you or your family about things. Encourage debate and be curious rather than judgmental about what they think. Sure it might be radical but that's all part of growing up:-)

Making small adjustments about how we think about teens will go a long way to helping you and your teen over a rocky patch. Approaching a current conflict with an absolute or an ultimatum is going to make the situation worse. It is hard to back down and back off but those strategies will usually work best and enable him or her to trust you, that you understand.

If things get really bad try and find a youth worker at a local rec centre or a youth counsellor to talk to. Making your teen talk to someone might not be the best approach. If things get to crisis it is we the parent who needs to put the oxygen mask on first - only then can we help our teen.

Preparing for the teen years

If you are a parent of a Tween - 7-12 year old now is the best time to build the relationship you want to have when he or she becomes a teen. BC Council for the Family have created My Tween and Me parenting course offered in BC. Research indicates that this is a crucial time for families to re-build on attachment and sustain positive relationships through the teen years.

Parenting Programmes for Parents of Teens

In BC, The Maples Treatment Centre have created a programme, called Connect. It is available in communities in BC and, I believe, is being rolled out in other places as well. In the UK, The Parent Practice offers programming for parents of teens as well.

The Y and Boys and Girls Clubs are good resources for parents looking for parenting programmes too.


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    • profile image

      Kathy 3 years ago

      This is getting a bit more suejtcbive, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of neighbors will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune Social is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thank you rajan jolly. It can be a challenge some days - sigh:-)

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Excellent advice. That's what we need to do, listen and not sermonize. Be a part of their life rather than bossing over.

      Voted up, useful, awesome.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks for reading. One on o.e really builds great bonding and I'm with you on the video games but good to know what they love.

    • Collisa profile image

      Columba Smith 5 years ago from California

      Great tips! I'll refer back to this. My kids are 17, 14, and 12. So far, no major issues; but I could definitely use more one-on-one time with each of them. Also, my boys love video games, which I can't stand; but this hub got me thinking about trying to relate. : )

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Fabulous advice! And I have one more tip to add: keep it short. Most teens have a short attention span, and long speeches are not effective. Succinct statements do quite well!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Lots of factors play into how you handle this. When you say he is not the boy you want him to be perhaps it would be helpful to have a conversation about who he wants to be. It could also be a good time to talk to him about what having a girlfriend means to him and to make the girl welcome at your home - maybe build a relationship with her mum as well. Making this into a big deal will most likely backfire. Try to build communication about values. If his Dad is in the picture make sure you are both on the same page about how to work together. Hope this helps. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Lana 6 years ago

      I have a 11 year old son and he is not becoming the boy i want him to, he is already into dating and i don't know if i should stop him from doing this or if i should just let him be?

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      I bow to your experience!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks Rita really appreciate your words.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      They will not - and if you need more information I would recommend a Tween and Me parenting Course. You being a good role model is the best of all - it works!

    • profile image

      Rita 6 years ago

      Hi Liza,

      I really enjoy and appreciate reading this article! I wish more parents will take the time to listen to their teens and try to understand where they are coming from...they're is so much creative energy and amazing ideas at this age, and I love to connect with that energy instead of assuming all youth are troubled! Thanks!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Welcome to HubPages. Looks like your hands are

    • rodelmore profile image

      Rod Elmore 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I have 9 children 21, 20, 19, 15, 14, 14, 10, 7, and 4. I understand greatly what you are talking about. Great post.

      Rod Elmore, M.Ed

      Life Coach

    • hecate-horus profile image

      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      I have a 8 and 11 year old, so I'm getting starting to get nervous...I'm afraid they will go from sweet little girls to horrible monsters overnight! Thanks for the good advice! It was helpful!