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Share to PinterestImprove Your Relationship With Your Teen
Share to PinterestImprove Your Relationship With Your Teen
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Psychologists say that establishing autonomy is one of the most important developmental tasks for teens. Once children hit the age of 13 and embark on their teenage years, they begin the process of separation from their parents and the shaping of their own identities.

This phase challenges parental control and can strain the parent-child bond, but it also provides opportunities for parents and teens to find new ways to communicate and build better relationships.

01

Initiating conversation

Share to Pinterestmother and son talking on couch in living room
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Dialogue and face-to-face conversation are important to any relationship but become especially crucial during the teen years. If a teenager initiates the conversation, understand that this is a big step. Remember to listen closely to what they have to say and validate their feelings. This doesn't mean letting them get away with everything, but it does mean acknowledging that what they feel is legitimate, even if you consider it inappropriate or problematic.

When you want to initiate a conversation, first take time to prepare what you need to say, then find a good time to talk. The goal is to keep the lines of communication open, and letting them know you respect the times they do and don't want to chat can go a long way.

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02

Finding common ground

Share to PinterestFather and Teenage Son Have Heart to Heart Talk
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One of the biggest keys to communicating and building a great relationship with your teenager is finding common ground. This does not mean you need to become an expert in everything that your teen says or does. Teenagers already have peers, so do not attempt to act, speak, or [https]behave like a teen.

Avoid pretending to have experienced everything they have. Instead, talk honestly about your own experiences and find natural points of relatability. Even if you cannot uncover common ground, active listening will go a long way toward strengthening the relationship.

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03

Avoid being “the fixer”

Share to Pinterestmother talking to stressed teen
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There will be times in their lives when teens need their parents to solve issues for them. However, your innate desire to protect and care for your kids has a good chance of just feeling overbearing to teenagers.

Sometimes, adolescents [https]just need to vent and are not looking for a solution when they open up to you. This is another reason why active listening and emotional validation are so important.

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04

Figure out rules for screen time

Share to PinterestFather and daughter using Smartphone and Digital tablet sitting on couch in the living room at home
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The world of the modern teenager is a blitz of social media content. Always staring at small glowing screens has dramatically changed relationship norms.

If you’re not involved in your teen’s online life, it can feel like they are becoming more distant. Rather than lecturing them about technology use, find ways to talk about what engages them and what they enjoy. You may not understand these topics, but the key is being active in both their online and offline lives. This will also allow you to discuss the [https]dangers of technology and social media without coming across as bossy or intrusive. Additionally, do your best to limit your own screen time around your teens.

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05

Understand that yesterday is not today

Share to PinterestSmiling teenager looking at father while talking outdoors
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Teens are in a constant state of change. It may feel like they love something one day and then hate it the next. They may act incredibly affectionate and then extremely distant. Your relationship with your teen needs to adjust to accommodate their growth.

If punishment is necessary, deliver it but then let it go. Do not attempt to remind them of how they used to behave or what they previously enjoyed, be it two days or two years ago. Be ahead of the curve and prepare for the many changes your teen will experience.

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06

Give them autonomy

Share to Pinterestmother seeing off her teenage daughter on the porch of the house

This is one of the hardest steps for most parents and caretakers. You’ve watched and cared for your children for so many years and letting go can feel overwhelming. Unless there is a legitimate cause for concern, give teens privacy to experiment and grow.

Studies show that [https]autonomy is one of the biggest factors in a positive parent-adolescent relationship. However,  also make it clear that you are there should your teen ever need assistance.

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07

Sincerely support them

Share to Pinterestfather cheering son holding a soccer ball
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Being present is about more than being there physically, though that is important. Sincerely supporting a teen means [https]being emotionally present as well. Cheer them on during highlights like plays, games, and concerts, but also be ready to help them when they are struggling.

In moments where their self-esteem has taken a hit or they simply are not feeling their best, your support will mean the most. Many teens will not open up about these issues, so you will have to be observant.

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08

Understand when to show affection

Share to PinterestPortrait of teenage boy between parents
Sue Barr / Getty Images

For many teenagers, peer relationships and their reputations are some of the most important things in their lives. Even the most responsive and caring teen may feel embarrassed when you show affection publicly.

This does not reflect their feelings toward you or imply that they are ashamed of you. Just speak with your teen, and find out when and how they would prefer you to show affection and pride.

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09

Keep private matters to yourself

Share to Pinterestteenage girl whispering to mom's ear
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If your teen approaches you and tells you something in confidence, keep the information confidential. It may feel tempting to share certain life events with your friends or other family members. However, doing so often leads to your child feeling like you betrayed their trust.

A big part of this is to not share private moments — such as candid family photos or baby pictures — on social media and always ask before involving your teen in your online activity.

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10

Be the parent

Share to PinterestFather tries to talk to his son, and troubled teenager begins to listen.
T Turovska / Getty Images

Nobody wants to be the “bad guy” in a relationship, but caretakers need to set clear and reasonable limits. If a teen does something that warrants punishment, be firm and take action. The key part of this, however, is “reasonable.” Do not over-punish your teen for mild transgressions, or you run the risk of them becoming more distant unnecessarily.

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