3 Habits That Will Transform Your Relationship
 

3 Habits That Will Transform Your Relationship with Your Teen

Be on the same team

By Samantha Loh | 17 July, 2019

The teenage years are a particularly trying time for a child. There are expected to achieve many tasks during this period of life. Navigating a new school environment, making new friends, establishing a sense of who they are, and dealing with biological changes that come with puberty are but some of the challenges they face.

At such a critical period, we may find it useful to practice these 3 simple habits to connect with our teens effectively.

1. Be sensitive yet firm

Understanding that the teenage years can be sensitive periods, it helps that we exercise sensitivity when interacting with our teens.

As teenagers develop during puberty, they are coming terms with their physical attributes and attractiveness, as well as learning to become their own person.

Instead of nagging, threatening or punishing, they may respond better to encouraging, supportive and respectful words.

For example, when your child’s room is messy, instead of nagging at them to clean it up, spell out the consequences of not cleaning up, such as, there will be no clean laundry if they don’t put away the dirty clothes, or that things will be misplaced.

This way, our teens get the opportunity to be autonomous individuals. At the same time, it fosters their decision-making skills, as they learn how to live with the effects of their choices.

Instead of nagging, threatening or punishing, they may respond better to encouraging, supportive and respectful words.

2. Be a constant presence in your child’s life

A teen may look, talk and behave like an adult, but do not be misled, they are still far from full adulthood.

A child’s brain is only fully developed at age 25, so as a teen, they are still maturing, cognitively and emotionally. They still very much need the security of a stable home environment, and supportive parents who are continually present in their lives.

A stable home environment gives our teens the security they need to explore the curiosities that teenage life brings: boy/girl relationships, negotiating boundaries in friendships, and choosing how to spend their free time.

Being a constant presence during this time gives parents the right to speak into their child’s life when the time comes. By being present, trust is built up between parent and child, and the teen can see that we are not trying to control their lives, but are genuinely concerned for them.

The time invested in our children’s lives will build up their receptiveness to receive our advice when the situation calls for it.

By being present, trust is built up between parent and child, and the teen can see that we are not trying to control their lives, but are genuinely concerned for them.

3. Practice active listening

Active listening is the practice of listening to what the other party is saying, and then paraphrasing it back to the speaker in order to demonstrate understanding and empathy.

Active listening involves first paying attention to what your child is saying. This includes attending to their non-verbal body language, the emotions they display, not just the content of what is being conveyed.

More importantly, active listening does not judge what the child is saying but seeks to understand. Helping a teen feel understood is a vital step in building strong emotional connection, and deepening our bond with them. This goes further than merely giving your child advice, or telling them what to do.

Helping a teen feel understood is a vital step in building strong emotional connection, and deepening our bond with them. This goes further than merely giving your child advice, or telling them what to do.

In sum, communicating with our teens involves more than the actual act of communication itself. It involves the whole relationship between parent and child.

Built on the foundations of mutual respect, understanding and love, our relationship with our teens can be improved and transformed. The stronger our relationship, the more effective our communication between them.

As an Associate Counsellor with Focus on the Family Singapore, Samantha is passionate about guiding young people through challenging seasons. Having worked with many children and youths, she believes that every individual has a unique journey. Her goal is to help each child discover their own pathways and purpose in life.

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