10 Ways to Build a Better Relationship with Your Teen

Cognitive Behavioral Therapist

Bella Stitt, LMFT

By Bella Stitt, LMFT

Teens can often come off as moody, negative, sarcastic, emotional, angry, unappreciative, rebellious, disrespectful, selfish, negative, and hurtful.

Teen in need of CBT counselingInstead of allowing yourself to feel resentful and angry, it is important to keep in mind that being a teenager can be overwhelming. During adolescence, teens experience rapid physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, and social developmental transformations. During this time, it is crucial for parents to reassess their parenting style and how they approach their teens, taking into account their child’s new abilities, struggles, and developmental challenges.

As parents, you can find yourself having to redefine and reestablish your authority with them. You may feel like you are in a never-ending battle of setting (and enforcing) rules, boundaries, expectations and limits.

Here are 10 ways that you can begin to build a better relationship with your teen:

  1. Ask specific questions about their day to show that you are interested in them and what they have to say.
  2. Making changes in your daily routine to spend more time with your teenager can have a huge impact on your relationship and their ability to successfully transition to adulthood. Finding time in the week to do things together and keep connected is important.
  3. Refrain from criticizing in order to keep the communication open. Being patient, compassionate and empathetic can help establish trust in your relationship.
  4. Listening attentively for a few moments can be more meaningful than hours of listening while you are continuing to carry on with another task.
  5. Demonstrate that you are listening by asking questions and validating their fears and feelings.
  6. Keep yourself from making judgments.
  7. Help them develop problem-solving skills by not jumping in and solving their problems. Allow them to come up with their own solutions.
  8. Be understanding of their need for physical space.
  9. Praise teens for their efforts as well as their abilities. This is a difficult time for them and their self-esteem is low; they need to feel accepted and loved.
  10. While maintaining your role as the parent, treat your teen the way you would want to be treated.

While parental involvement and communication is a key factor in supporting your teen’s transition from childhood to adulthood, your teen’s primary developmental task is to separate from you and form their own sense of identity. Spending time with friends and being accepted by their peers is a crucial way to meet their emotional need of belonging as well as reducing their dependence on you.

If you’re still unable to bridge the gap and you feel that your teen is pulling away from you or struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression, a consultation with an experienced counselor may be in order.

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