6 Ways You Can Connect With Your Disconnected Teen

6 Ways You Can Connect With Your Disconnected Teen

Being a parent is difficult. Being a teenager is hard. Your two worlds are colliding day-after-day. It sometimes feels impossible to communicate with each other without the conversation ending in a shouting match, the silent treatment, or complete disconnect. Both of your lives are interwoven with the others’ but it may feel like your teen is trying to rip away. The pressures of school, homework, friends, crushes, and self-identity that your teen is experiencing is a whirlwind of emotions and you get sucked up in it when you only want to calm the storm. Here you will find helpful guidelines to signal to your teen that you are there as a support and a source of understanding – not the opposite.

Be an essential part of your teen’s life; but remember the important lesson of trial and error.

  • It can be tough to not tell your teen the consequences of an action. But often times letting them figure it out on their own is the best. Then you two can have a good conversation and maybe even laugh about it.
  • Just letting your teen know that you will be there no matter what they choose can make all the difference when they need to talk to you later.

Read their body language—if they don’t reciprocate the question you have asked them, try another approach.

  • If you’re trying to get your teen to open up but you are receiving one word answers or idle shrugs, try asking them about the book they’re reading or the video game they are playing.
  • If you’re still not getting the responses you had hoped for: don’t hound them until they talk. This can make your teen resent you and close up.

Encouragement is key: understand that your teen is exploring themselves and how they fit into this world.

  • This goes beyond extra-curricular activities and sports and into supporting new interests they develop like music, games, or fashion.
  • Your teen is in an important stage of life: discovering their identity. Understand that their interests can change over night depending on the events going on in their social circles. Be alert but be understanding if you teen picks up a new hobby.

Add humor and spontaneity when tackling a subject; don’t be afraid to show your teen your vulnerabilities.

  • Talking about uncomfortable subjects such as sex, drugs, bullying, etc. in a joking manner may get the initial shock out of your teen. So when it comes up seriously they won’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about it because the subject as already been addressed.
  • Being candid about your own mistakes (and what you’ve learned from them) can lead to more trust between you and your teen.

Validate what your teen is feeling. It is hard to not give them advice but sometimes they just need someone to listen.

  • When your teen is having a bad day and comes home saying things like, “I’m gonna fail this test coming up, I feel so unprepared.” Your reaction as a parent may be to fix their problem or offer a suggestion. Your teen may then feel they aren’t being heard and understood. A better way to react in this situation is to ask them more questions about how they’re feeling and what they feel they can do about it. This will encourage them to then solve and act on the problem themselves.
  • Teens are going to feel sad or angry about little things. Instead of telling them to, “not sweat it.” Open it up with, “What you are feeling is legitimate and I understand – I’ve been there.” Then continue listening until your teen has vented it out. After that will be a better time for advice if it is solicited.

Conflict is inevitable when people with different views live together.

  • Practicing constructive criticism can help you avoid backlash from your teenagers. Although you may feel like your criticism is helping your teen to do better, it can be received negatively. Combining positive attributes as well as ways to improve is a good start to create positive criticism.
  • Feeling frustrated with your teen is normal. But if you and your teen are consistently fighting, try to reflect on how you are communicating.

Overall your teen is your child and it can be confusing, hurtful, and hard when it feels like they are disconnecting from you. But there are steps that you can take as a parent to mend the communication gap between you and your teen. As your teenager grows and develops their own identity, there are going to be rough patches; however, if you work together you can generate better communication and understanding.

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