|100 Ways to Connect With Your Teens
by Dr. Debra Hapenny Ciavola, www.greatparentingtips.com
About the Author:
- View adolescence as an adventure.
- Respect their privacy.
- Create family times around activities they enjoy.
- Keep the delicate balance between holding on and letting go.
- Understand the nature of the adolescent beast.
- Take advantage of an unexpected connection.
- Bite your tongue.
- Don't take their chaotic behavior or mood swings personally.
- Help them discover their spirituality.
- Catch them doing something right and praise them.
- Influence your teens' decision making, but don't say "I forbid."
- Give privileges with age and responsibility.
- Be their mentor and ally.
- Guide them, not manage them.
- Be clear about expectations and the consequences for not meeting those expectations.
- Be your teen's advocate.
- Show true interest in their activities.
- Expect miracles.
- Be their parent. Teens do want rules, limits, and questions from you.
- If you can't police, monitor or enforce a rule, don't have it.
- Watch the little rules that poison relationships.
- Spend time alone with your teen.
- Ask open ended question, such as "What are you learning in your history class?"
- Encourage them to talk it out.
- Actively supervise your teen's exposure to media violence.
- Acknowledge your teen's fears, even if you do not agree with them.
- Control your own behavior.
- Talk about gangs and cliques.
- Allow them safe and healthy outlets for their energy.
- Use "I" statements rather than "You".
- Enforce the important stuff, not the little stuff.
- Seek to understand what your teen is really saying rather than reacting.
- Share something personal that relates to your years as a teen.
- Avoid giving unwanted advice.
- Discuss personal matters on sex and fears.
- Give your teen the impression that you trust them to do what is right.
- Listen patiently to your teen's reasons for wanting to do something.
- Connect with your teen. Reflect on your adolescence.
- Avoid lecturing.
- Be someone they can believe in.
- Make your home a place where teens want to hang out.
- Talk less about the media and more about real heroes in our country.
- Make a list of ten things you like about your teen and tell them.
- Teach them how to be compassionate, empathetic, and fair.
- Show compassion to other teenagers.
- Keep your face relaxed when they are telling you something you don't want to hear.
- Talk about drinking and its consequences. Make your expectations known.
- Help them establish their own autonomy while maintaining a loving relationship with you.
- Support your teen's interests and encourage in their accomplishments.
- Have regular family meetings in which the whole family talks things over and makes decisions together.
- Ask what worries them most about their future.
- Use natural and logical consequences, so discipline makes sense.
- When they come home from an event ask, "How did you show good character?"
- Teach respect for life in all forms.
- Ask if they would like to go out to eat, run an errand, or go shopping with you.
- Show up to watch them in their activities. Clap loudly.
- Talk to their friends, learn their names, and let them confide in you.
- Work together in community activities.
- Learn more about their world.
- Believe they can make a difference and be a success.
- Admit when you are wrong. Be able to say, "I'm sorry."
- Hug them often.
- Say, "I love you. I'm proud of you."
- Show your teen respect.
- Eat dinner together four to five days a week.
- Never berate or belittle teens in front of their friends or peers.
- Ask their opinions.
- Give them room to breath to balance independence with dependence.
- Set standards in clothing while still allowing them to express themselves.
- Talk to your teen when there is not a problem.
- Listen carefully to what is being said as well as what is not.
- Have daily conversations.
- Share your concerns rather than being the undercover cop.
- Keep the discussions with your teen confidential unless they are involved with something dangerous.
- Follow through on promises.
- Allow your teen to take responsibility when you see them handling it well.
- Forgive your teen when they make a mistake.
- Negotiate new challenges.
- Give your teen increasing autonomy (even if it kills you).
- Accept all of your teen's feelings as long as they are respectfully conveyed.
- Schedule times to talk about unappealing topics. Do not catch on the fly.
- Focus on what your teen did right before offering constructive criticism.
- Make more statements rather than asking questions.
- Talk to your teenager rather than at them.
- Don't over-react.
- Accept they will have moody behavior and teach them how to deal with it.
- Allow them to make decisions about their own lives whenever possible.
- Remember you are in the process of "people-making."
- Express words of appreciation.
- Listen with your heart.
- Help them develop a sense of humor by telling funny stories of your day.
- Enforce mutually acceptable behavior standards.
- Listen to the whole story before you react.
- Use natural and logical consequences when a boundary is broken.
- Cook together or teach them how to cook.
- Wait up until they come home.
- Talk in the dark after the house is quiet and they are tired and relaxed.
- Find out if they want you to fix it or just listen before you give advice.
- Discover a shared passion together.
- Remember, children become who you predict them to be.
Dr. Debra Hapenny Ciavola is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working with children, adolescents, and adults. She is the author of 50 Great Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Connect with Your Teen.
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