5 Easy Ways to Build Your Relationship With Your Teenager

Let’s be honest. It’s hard to be a teenager.

It’s hard to be the parent of a teenager.

Sure, I think teenagers are smart and funny and full of potential — but it’s a hard time, baby. Navigating those years as a parent requires finesse, patience, and grit.

I’m sure you’ve read  the  brain studies proving teens brains are undergoing huge changes and don’t mature until their early 20s.  You’ve heard this fact so many times you’re yawning right now. And before you read that study, you also knew the teen years tend to be an emotional roller coaster. Right? Kind of common knowledge.

But as parents, we’re going through our own emotional upheaval. Whether you believe in midlife crises or not, many adults in their [40s] and [50s] experience feelings of depression, remorse, anxiety, and insecurity. And those feelings hit right about the same time our kids start to think we’re stupid.

Teens and parents are ripe for misunderstanding. Yet more than any other time, we need open communication with our teens to guide them through crucial decisions.

OK, I hate to tell you this. But as parents, the responsibility is on us. Yep, we’re the adults (even if we feel like we’re pretending half the time). It’s never too early or too late to form a great relationship with our kids.

Here are five easy ways to become a better parent of a teenager overnight.

1. Try a Zero Criticism Activity

Ask your teenager what they are excited about right now and participate with them with absolutely no fault finding. Listen to their new favorite song, play a video game with them, let them tell you the plot of the book they are reading, watch a favorite TV show with them, cheer while they juggle oranges, etc. No matter how cringy the activity, avoid criticism like the plague! Engage with your teen and find the good.

2. Create a Trigger.

We usually think of triggers as something that makes us upset. Reverse that thinking and set triggers related to your teen that create a positive response.

First, turn a negative to a positive. For example: maybe your teenager makes smoothies and forgets to clean out the blender. Instead of feeling frustration, feel grateful and proud that your teen prepares such healthy snacks/meals. This could apply to shoes on the floor, homework on the counter, projects in the garage, etc. Take a moment to compliment your teen and then ask them to clean it up.

Next, establish a thought trigger. Write a short sentence or phrase to describe your love for your teen— “You are my sunshine,” “I waited [10] years for you.” Now, anytime your child says “Mom” “Dad” (or whatever they call you) repeat this phrase to yourself. Don’t skip this one! Our thoughts drive our feelings and our actions.

Michelle Lehnardt
Michelle Lehnardt
I’m the kind of mom who drives through mud puddles, throws pumpkins off the roof and lets the kids move the ping-pong table into the kitchen for the summer. Despite (or probably, because of) my immaturity, my five sons and one daughter are happy, thriving, funny people. I’ll climb a mountain with you, jump into a freezing lake hand-in-hand or just sit with you while you cry. Founder of scenesfromthewild.net and rubygirl.org.

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