Hello Parents! Here are some simple tips to remember when it comes to your relationship with your teen.
- Be consistent. Their identity is changing and evolving. They need you to be the consistent, steady adult, even when they push you away. They should know what to expect from you.
- Validation is affirming their experience, emotions, or body language. It doesn’t mean you’re agreeing with it, condoning it or encouraging it, rather that you are acknowledging where they’re at right now. Exercise: try asking their opinion about something (say a music band or a current event). Listen to their answer, repeat what they said (“So let me see if I have this right… you like this because…”) and then follow up with (“I hadn’t realized that’s why you felt that way. Neat.”) And leave it at that. This teaches your teen that they when they share with you, their opinions will be validated.
- Boundaries mean setting expectations that are fair and reasonable, while also having flexibility to adapt.
- Valuing the relationship means seeing the positive traits in your kids, enjoying their strengths and challenges, and valuing their opinion. Positive praise goes such a long way.
- Be aware of your own issues and how they might impact your family. Be willing to address your own needs and behavior.
- Be respectful to your family members, and set a clear expectation of mutual respect in the family. Rather than a punitive approach, let them know that you’re not feeling respected and we need to figure out how to be respectful to one another.
- Share your perspective and emotions, while avoiding placing blame or shame on anyone.
- During conflict, take a break and come back to the topic later, after everyone has cooled down. 20 minutes should be enough time. Do make sure you come back to address the issue.
- Laugh with your teen. Using humor is a great way to bond. Find ways to connect and have fun together.
*Adapted from Dr. Kolakowski’s Spring 2012 Lakeside Academy Parent Lecture Series. Dr. Kolakowski is a licensed psychologist in private practice. www.drshannonk.com