As a parent of an adolescent, you may be in the ‘transition’ season. Gone are the days when your child would cling on to you every single second of the day and instead, they are forming their own lives and making connections outside of the home.
This, however, doesn’t mean that you no longer have a chance to connect with your child. In fact, adolescence could be a great way to bond with your child in a way that leaves a positive impact that they carry with them into adulthood.
Staying connected with your child is all about building closeness and being available and responsive to your child as they go through this transition in their lives. It’s letting them know that you will remain a stable anchor in their lives even though everything around them is changing.
There are several ways to do so with your adolescent.
Casual connecting is one that you can do daily with your child. It is taking advantage of using everyday interactions to build closeness and positive relationships. Casual connective often occurs when your child approaches you to share what is currently going on in their life. No matter how busy you are, it is important to stop what you’re doing and really focus on the moment. This will make your adolescent feel that they are being heard and that they are important. It goes without saying that you really must be engaged in the conversation by showing interest and listening without immediately judging or correcting. The goal is for you to simply lend an ear to your child at the present moment. It also helps to remind your child that you are always available to them, no matter what time of the day.
Spending time with your adolescent doing something you both enjoy falls under the planned connecting category. Scheduling a ‘date’ with your adolescent despite differing schedules will benefit your relationship greatly. The first step is to make sure to consistently follow through with your planned outings even if your child will resist at first. It is also important to have fun no matter what activity you choose. Don’t pressure yourself into making it perfect – remember that as long as you are together, that is all that matters. The more you spend time through scheduled outings, the easier it will be to connect with your child.
Of course, the adolescent phase can still be quite challenging but staying connected with your child will allow you to instantly notice changes in their moods, behavior, and eating patterns. It is important to be aware of the changes and be aware if the mood swings or other changes are happening more often. When this happens, you can reach out to a trusted friend or even your own family doctor to know if there is something deeper going on.
Staying connected with your adolescent should not intimidate you, in fact, you can view it as a positive challenge, one that you and your child can overcome together.