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Get connected with your Teen

altDo you find your easy-going, good-humoured preteen turning into a wary, moody teenager?  That nowadays, you just can’t seem to understand what’s going on in his or her head? If you’re in a parenting rut, these tips from counsellors and ‘teen-honed’ parents may just help get your relationship back on the right track.

1. Talk, sms, chat… but just get in TOUCH

Many parents find that they hardly see their teenagers any more, and that’s just taking into account school and CCA time away from home. Find the time to talk to your teen, and this can be whenever you’re together – over a meal, driving in the car etc. Can’t even ‘catch’ your teen in the house? With in-your-face social media and even preschoolers toting handphones nowadays, there’s no excuse for not touching base. In fact, many parents who allow their teens to create Facebook accounts find that the upside of knowing what’s happening in their children’s lives more than make up for the risks that such social networking entails.

2. Define and stick by your rules

More than ever, you’ve got to set boundaries for unacceptable behaviour or habits. However, thinking that your teen knows the rules and finding out the hard way are two different things. Aside from specific discussions on issues such as schoolwork discipline, you can introduce issues by casually mentioning a media story e.g. on extreme body piercings or something the family may have heard through friends or relatives. Share your views and hear what your teen has to say as well. In this way, you both have a hand in shaping and agreeing on the rules to abide by.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

In other words, PICK YOUR BATTLES. Some habits or experimental behaviour may be simply amusing; others may be downright annoying or troubling. However, before you bring your teen to task, ask yourself these: 1. Does it run counter to norms of graciousness and basic right-and-wrong? 2. It is something that may adversely affect your teen’s life – whether now or later? 3. Is it hurting anyone? If you can’t say YES for sure, let it go. those several hundred ‘OMG!’ that you hear each day or that lime green oversized sunglasses glued to your teen’s head might eventually disappear.

4. Be a guide, NOT best friend

You may like nothing better than for their teen to trust you and come to you for advice, rather than confide in people you don’t know. However, you also don’t want to fall into the danger of becoming your teen’s best friend and supporting him or her in things you’re not comfortable with, for the sake of maintaining that closeness and camaraderie. Hence, especially when difficult decisions need to be made, remember that you are in charge. Much as your teen would rather have a best friend, it is more important that you be a guide and role model.

5.  Your teen is changing… so must YOU

Parenting styles aren’t spared the wheels of change. What worked for you when your kids were just kids won’t hold water any more. Aside from just changing the way you interact with them, try to find out what interests them and why they’re so passionate about it. Read books and surf websites aimed at young adults to regain some perspective. Listen to that Lady Gaga or 2PM cd back to back if you have to (you may just become a fan yourself!). You might actually earn their respect for trying to understand what’s ‘cool’, even if they won’t admit it to your face Laughing

Share YOUR tips on how you connect with your teen! We would love to hear from you.