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Dr. Lynn Margolies
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PSYCHOLOGY NEWS BLOG - FEBRUARY - 10 Easy Tips to Connect With Your Teen

by Dr. Lynn Margolies


Parent Tips to Understand Teens and Improve Rapport:

• Focus attention on teens’ strengths and positive intentions. (Gives teens affirming experiences with you, develops identity.)

• Quietly listen and observe teens when they’re with their friends in the car or elsewhere. (Provides information on where they fit in socially.)

• Seek input from others who know your teen. (Provides other viewpoints.)

• Offer to give teens rides, make it easy for teens to have friends over. (Provides opportunities to observe or, if alone with them, connect.)

• Go to teens’ sporting or other events. (This is important to teens even if they don’t let on.)

• Allow stress-free zones with teens when you aren’t questioning or teaching them. (Don’t inhibit teens from talking or joking by making everything into a “lesson.”)

• Do more listening than talking when they are telling you something. (Teens will feel more respected and trust you more. The most important thing is how they perceive the connection with you because, without it, they won’t reach out to you.)

• Create opportunities to connect (in a nonintrusive way) around neutral activities/topics in which teens are naturally motivated, interested, and confident e.g., tv series, sports, mobile apps.

• Be “present” and available e.g. “on call” - even when teens seem otherwise occupied at home - limiting your own use of electronic devices at these times. (Teens will talk on their timetable, not when parents want to connect. Even teens who appear disinterested in their parents feel rejected by distracted parents on their devices at home.)

• Don’t rely on teens to validate you as a parent or for companionship. (This role reversal requires teens to submerge aspects of themselves and stifles personality development.)

Relevant Articles:

How Parents Can Help Teens Under Academic Pressure (and 5 Common Traps)

Parenting Teens: 7 Important Questions with Answers that Sort Truth from Fiction

Stressed Out Teens - Empathic Parents: What to Do When It's Contagious?

Teen Drinking: Limits vs. Punishment

The Paradox of Pushing Kids to Succeed

Executive Function Problem or Just a Lazy Kid (Part 2)

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