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The bedroom door slams and you’re left standing alone in the hallway, feeling frustrated and disappointed yet again. No one ever said raising teens would be a walk in the park. Those who were sweet and sassy just a few years ago seem to have morphed into a totally different creature, almost overnight.They no longer curl up in your lap and let you play with their hair. They don’t want to tell you anything about their day. In fact, most of the time, they don’t even want to be in the same room as you.
Parenting teens is hard. They are struggling to find their place in a big and scary world. They’re overwhelmed and need guidance but are afraid to ask. Take a hands-on approach to parenting and find ways to connect with teens without driving yourself crazy!
10 Ways to Connect with Teens
Give them Your Undivided Attention
Teens often feel like they are forgotten by their parents. This is especially true if they are the oldest child in the family. Because they can fend for themselves, parents tend to spend a lot of their time tending to the younger kids, leaving the teens feeling pushed aside. Every once in a while, teens need their parents’ undivided attention. That means no other kids, electronics, work or Facebook. They need you to really listen to them and show them you love them.
Create Traditions & Rituals
It’s never too late to create new traditions. Whether that means Saturday morning brunch or monthly fishing trips, traditions give kids something to look forward to. Even when they act like they hate your traditions, keep it up! They secretly enjoy having something stable they can rely on in their world of whirlwind emotions. Some fun traditions include:
- Birthday vacations
- Movie Marathon Monday
- Breakfast Dates
- First Friday Family Fun Night
- Sleep-In Saturday
Nothing helps families connect quite like a delicious plate of grub on the table. Invite the kiddos to the kitchen to whip up a batch of yummy cookies or some fun unicorn donuts. Don’t worry about the mess or mistakes but instead concentrate on connections and memories made! If you grumble about the spilled milk or pile of dishes, teens are less likely to participate with you in the kitchen next time.
Go on a Date
Take the time to get to know your kiddo on a deeper level by “dating” them. No need to simply go for dinner and a movie. Try spending the evening at a mini-golf course, batting cages or at a paint studio. We like to have some fun first, then go to dinner. This gives us more to talk about and the kids are more relaxed, which is always important when you want to connect with teens.
Do Something Unexpected
Has your teen always dreamed of going to an NFL game? Then take them! Do they wish they could see Panic! At the Disco in concert? Take them! Have they always wanted to try ballroom dancing? Sign up for classes together! They will love that you’ve paid attention and know what they’re interested in. They will appreciate the extra effort you put into a fun surprise.
Talk about the Future
Teens often feel overwhelmed by life in general. Talk about the future with an open mind and allow them to confide in you what scares them and excites you about the years to come. When my daughter was just 12, she confided in me that the thought of going to college scared the bee-jeez out of her. I never would have known, had she not felt comfortable discussing the future with me.
In our house, a family game night solves all problems. When the younger kiddos are acting up, I know they just need attention. The same is true for teens. Sometimes a subtle family game night is just what they need to feel connected to the world around them. We absolutely love Battle Sheep but this list of 100+ games will help you find a game that your teen will love.
Drop the Electronics
It’s easy to forget what life what like before we had access to the whole world at our fingertips. Before our phones were our constant companions, we naturally connected with those around us more. Aim to spend one day each week with no electronics, not just for your teens, but for the whole family. You will automatically reconnect, spend more time together and learn to live without the internet.
Invite Their Friends
There’s one thing that every parent knows about teenagers; they love their friends. Show your kiddo that you want to know more about their world by inviting their friends along for some fun. I recommend inviting friends shopping, to the movies or somewhere outside of the house. If you just invite them over to hang out at home, you’ll likely get dropped when they head for the bedroom to hang out alone. Take them to a professional baseball game, where they have to sit next to you. 😉 Sneaky, sneaky!
When it comes to major events like your teen’s birthday, inviting their friends is a must. Let your teen decide whom they want to invite. As a rule, send out personalized invitations cards three weeks in advance because teens can be busy too.
Nature has a way of making kids relax and have some fun. Go hiking, head to the creek or go for a bike ride. Kids enjoy trying new hobbies, so try something fun like Geocaching or head to a water park. Nature has a way of making it easy to connect with teens. No matter what you do, make sure you spend time talking and laughing with your teens.
No matter what you decide to do, be sure to remember that your child is struggling in a world full of roller-coaster emotions and trying to find their place in the world. Take your time and eventually you and your kiddo will connect automatically, as they learn to control their emotions and feelings. Remember that you are building a foundation for a friendship that will last a lifetime. Teens who don’t feel judged or scolded are more likely to open up and relax with their parents.