Puberty can be a tumultuous time for a person as their body adjusts to their changing hormones, and they start trying to figure out who they are. With the highs and lows of being a teenager, it can be a rocky road for parents to traverse. It’s not an impossible feat, however, and there are ways you can still maintain a healthy connection to your child as they navigate these years in their life.
Hang out together
Just because your kid may no longer be as sweet and cuddly as they used to be, doesn’t mean they don’t still need your attention (as long as you don’t become overbearing). Spend some time enjoying with your teen and find out organically what kind of things they like. Ask them about their favorite shows, shop with them and take them to spaces like a boba shop with a refreshing new drink or some gift shops with different clothes and trinkets. There are tons of ways to hang out and make them feel like you can still be a loving presence.
Don’t invalidate their interests.
There’s no faster way to have your child close you off than making fun of or immediately dismissing things they are interested in. Take the time to learn about what they spend their time on and why they like these activities or topics so much, and you can figure out from there if it’s something that can be good for them. Even if some new things are unfamiliar to you, simply making an effort can do wonders in making your child feel comfortable and open with you.
Create an environment with open communication.
Discuss things with your child and let them be more involved to build their confidence while still putting more responsibility into their hands. While doing so, make sure you foster an environment where they feel like they can speak to you about their problems, even if it might also concern you specifically. Even if you won’t always agree on everything, the important thing is letting them know that listening is a core part of talking to each other. Psychologists noted the ills of not speaking as a family on issues and the ways to work around this.
Get to know their crowd.
Friends are a big deal to a teen figuring out their social circle. So, as tempting as it might be to dismiss these youths and possibly pre-judge them, get to know them first and allow your child to explore friendships as you guide them on knowing how to distinguish red flags on bad seeds. They will be more open to your guidance if they feel that you took the time to try to learn more about their friend groups.
Be firm and transparent with discipline.
It still falls on you to right the wrongs that are there and make sure your teen gets consequences for their wrong actions. There are ways to do this that don’t foster negativity and won’t feel like a “punishment” that may skew their perception. While you need to be firm and set rules clearly so that they aren’t wandering, it’s important to communicate honestly and concisely so that they know exactly why they are getting disciplined.
Though each teenager is different, this is generally a great starting point for any parent that still wants to be involved in their growing child’s life as a positive force.