Once upon a time you had a lovely child with a great relationship, then one day they became a teen and poof, where did my child go?
They are still there; I can assure you that. They still love you more than anything else in the world. You’re still the most important person to them. Your opinion is still the one with the most impact on them.
But they would rather die than to let it show!
The problem is that at that age they want to behave tough. They want to show they’re grownups now and can manage alone. They want to make their own decisions and choices. That’s fine of course. It’s part of their development and they need to go through this phase. But this can lead to them making all sorts of bad decision and being dragged down a very bad path too. If they feel isolated and not understood, that is the danger zone. They need to be able to think: “That’s terrible. I’m in trouble. I should talk to my parents” instead of “That’s terrible. I’m in big troubles. My parents are going to kill me.”
This is a reason why more than ever you have to keep the connection strong with your teen. Make sure they know you’re there for them and will support them in times of need.
Keeping the connection doesn’t mean keeping them under high surveillance, but instead creating moments when they have this reminder that you’re here.
Here are some suggestions.
Have a “Mindful walk”
First off, they need to be “disconnected” a bit from their phone to reconnect with the real world. Have a walk, preferably in nature or a nice park. During the walk, look around you and observe your surroundings. Each season brings its own kind of beauty. What does it look like today? How are the tree? Can you see any birds? Do you hear a river? Completely immerse in the décor and let it in you. While walking, take a few deep breaths together.
If possible, once or twice weekly, this walk will help reduce their anxiety and improve their overall moral.
Go Shopping Together
By this I don’t mean just a day to spend money on them. I mean a day with just the two of you spending time together. A day when they will have your full time and attention. You can go around town and chat. It’s the opportunity to share about your taste in clothes and accessories. You will get to know each other better. Teens are just like children and even adults; they crave attention from their parents. They want to be reassured about your love for them. They need to know to you they’re special. They just have a hard time expressing it in a healthy way. Which is the reason it has to come from you.
That said, a little treat to make them feel special is better than a lot of bags full of forgettable items. It is your choice of course how much you want to spend of them that day. But it’s the memory that matters the most. The feeling they will have that day. The happiness they will feel and carry with them.
Let’s Them Cook for the Family
It provides a great sense of achievement to be able to produce a meal for the family. And most importantly they can feel very proud they get to share their creation. It makes them participate to the family life. One of the most important roles in the family is being able to feed the said family. Being the one that created a meal to share with everybody provides with a great confidence boost.
Cooking together is the opportunity to pass on family savoir-faire as well as fun time to spend together. Even better, why don’t you try and pick a recipe never done before and work together as a team. Go grocery shopping together, pick the ingredient, listen to their suggestion. Taking into account their opinion is also a really great way to help them feel closer to you and important.
This is a great bonding activity as well as something that is sure to raise their self-worth.
Create a Gratitude Journal
The Gratitude Journal is an exercise I recommend to my clients whether they are teens or adults. It’s a very powerful tool into regaining positivity in your life. It helps to remind themselves about every little nice thing they can be grateful for on a daily basis. We have a tendency to focus on the negative and that’s the reason we are so miserable. We are programmed to be automatically sad and see the darkness in every moment. Well there is a way you can turn this around. It’s as simple as having a gratitude journal.
Everyday, in the evening or in the morning, list three to five things you are grateful for. This is a habit to put in your routine just like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes.
The important part is that you do it together and this way you have this moment to think about what is so great about today, your life or even life in general. Make it your daily time together when everything is about being positive.
If you wish to learn more about the practice of gratitude, I refer you to my other article: “The Power of Gratitude.”
I hope this is giving you ideas on how to recreate a connection with your teen. You don’t have to do them all. You can, of course, pick just the one you think would work the best with your teen.