The teenage years are some of the most formative years a parent will ever power through. Nurturing teens and pre-teens can be an exhausting emotional roller coaster of busy schedules, big sassy attitudes, and a few hundred broken boundaries. But remember, no one is perfect, including yourself; you're going to make mistakes, but always keep trying, forgiving, loving, and learning. Parenting is the best gig on the planet!!!
Here are 10 things to keep in mind while trying to communicate & build trust with your teenager:
1. Just Listen -
Be still and be quiet. No need to give advice right away. If they start talking, just take it in and let them know you care. Don’t try and fix it. If they don’t feel judged they will talk.
2. Validate Their Feelings -
Let them know you hear what they are saying and that their feelings are important. Don’t minimize what they are saying, or try to analyze it for them. Let them know you hear them and you care.
3. Control Your Emotions -
You are the adult. Settle your emotions and temper so they know what it looks like to be in control. When they roll their eyes, walk away. Don’t engage, be willing to lose the battle in order to win the war!
4. Look For Ways To Build Trust -
Ask them to do you a favor, ask their opinion, and give them opportunities to make decisions and express themselves. Create moments for them to use good judgment and earn your trust. Let them know you value their opinion.
5. Praise, Praise, & Then Praise Again -
Remember, no one has ever been motivated by a lecture alone. They need to hear you are proud of them. Look for the good stuff, and acknowledge it, no matter how small it might seem.
6. Be Consistent -
If you say it, mean it, and then do it! With everything - boundaries, warnings, guidelines, privileges …. If you are consistent, your teen will trust you. They might not agree with you, but they will know your word means something.
7. Do Things Together -
Create experiences and memories together. Use things like conversation cards and apps to get the conversation rolling even at restaurants or in the car. They may think it is hokey … but do it anyway. Laugh together about things that are not related to the family, school, or outside pressures. Do things together, even if they mumble and grumble, you won't regret it.
8. Be The Parent -
Don’t forget, you’re the adult. You know what is right and wrong for your family. Their opinion is important, but you have the final word. Don’t let their emotions, bad attitude, and big feelings dominate the family's mood. You will never regret setting boundaries with consistency and love.
9. Trust But Verify -
Let them know you will be following up, checking in on them, and making sure they are safe. Check their phone, their laptop, and their search history. Privacy is important but when it comes to technology until they are out of your home, you are the safest thing they can rely on.
10. Let Them Struggle -
Growth will always come from struggle. When they fall, they learn to rise. From the fall they will develop coping skills, grit, and resilience. Let them learn how to be strong, it’s the greatest gift you can give them, next to your unconditional love.
Enjoy the journey. Young adults are amazing individual humans, who relish in these years together. Your influence, guidance, and support mean the world to them. Trust the process!!!