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Parenting Tip: 6 Ways to Connect With Your Teen
People of different generations often complain about and blame each other for the woes of the world. Older people may suggest younger people have it easier, are lazy, irresponsible and consumed with social media, while younger people fault older people for their problems, saying they’re too old to understand them, believe they are techno-illiterate and perceive them as selfish and grouchy. It is true some of these beliefs are stereotypes that describe some people, and it is easy to side with people we think are most like us and against those whom we believe are different.
All of this said, I have noticed many desire a connection across the generations and are left feeling disappointed and resentful because they may not get ample respect from one another which fuels the stereotypical complaints.
Young people are frequently seeking positive connection, and mentorship from adults. Teens and young adults are often interested in classic music, vintage clothing and retro video games and are eager to talk about these interests with adults. Many teens have shared with me that adults don’t listen to them, constantly criticize and are tell them what to do instead of listening, and rarely give choices, which leads to resentment and resistance toward “listening” to adults.
While each generation may be culturally different, they are more the same than we tend to admit. Kids still need mentors to guide them into adulthood by interacting with kindness, curiosity, and in the spirit of sharing and asking rather than telling and criticizing.
Here are 6 easy ways to make and keep a positive connection with your teen.
- Allow her to share her interests with you, even if you think you are not “in to” whatever it is. This will show her you are interested in her, and her ideas are valuable to you.
- Spend one on one time together doing something you both enjoy, at least one time per month, and try to “touch base” for at least 20 minutes a day.
- Meet his friends, and show an interest in them and how they spend their time together without prying, spying or criticizing.
- Avoid statements like, “The problem with your generation is….”, “You know what your problem is….”, and “If you weren’t so [lazy, stupid, boring, weak, etc.]. These types of statements convey a negative judgment of your loved one which can harm fragile self esteem, and will erode your relationship over time.
- Allow your teens to make some decisions whenever possible to promote independence, build self confidence and to show you trust them. Even if they make a mistake they are learning from the process, are growing as individuals, and are gaining the autonomy we all value. Feel free to give them options to choose from which are acceptable to you instead of telling them what to do. And if they make a mistake, be kind and empathetic while holding them accountable.
- Acknowledge good choices, desirable behavior and accomplishments. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in encouraging good conduct, building self esteem and better relationships.