It is essential that parents provide their teenager with focused, non-judgmental attention. – Sandra
The co-regulation of emotional states once available to teens through sharing with their parents, is getting interrupted by less emotionally fulfilling forms of interaction. This situation is leaving teenagers less equipped to handle the pressures of their live as well as navigate the waters of intimate relationships.
Parents who used to take the weekend off can now be seen answering calls or emails in the middle of a family activity. Teens who used to sit down together for dinner and talk to their parents or siblings now text their friends instead of speaking to the person sitting right next to them.
As a therapist for teens, I feel it is essential for parents to set aside time to provide their teenager with focused, non-judgmental attention. This will allow them to expand their parent-child interactions, and develop a secure and joyful bond between them and their teen.
1. Set aside 20 minutes a day where there are no interruptions. Turn off cell phones and try to pick a time when you do not have other things that either of you need to be doing.
2. Let your teenager know that this time will be your special time together, and that you have no expectations on how this time will look.
3. Follow your adolescent’s lead. Talk about whatever they want to talk about. Discover what they want from you during this time. Do they want you to admire them? Respond to them but do not take over and direct them.
4. Watch, wait and wonder about what your teen is telling you. Enter their world and reflect on their experience of life.
5. Avoid giving advice or showing displeasure with what they are offering to share with you.
6. Instead, make observations and/or ask questions about what you hear. (”You sound proud of yourself. What are you planning to do next?”)
7. Have fun. Try to give yourself over completely to the enjoyment of a glimpse into your teenager’s life. You will only find it boring if your mind is stuck in the adult world. Try to be entirely present with your teen. Your adolescent will tell you a lot about themselves and their world if you allow yourself to be receptive.
8. Remember this is not a teaching time. Try to avoid praising or criticizing. You want the motivation of making good choices to ultimately come from within the teenager rather than through praise or punishment.
9. Sometimes, these conversations may elicit strong reactions or uncomfortable feelings on the part of the parent. These reactions may be helpful to reflect on in a supportive setting, like with a parent educator, therapist or another parent you feel safe with. It is important to understand what your feelings mean in regards to your relationship with your child.
10. Try to spend quality time every day, particularly during times of stress in the teen or family’s life.
Last, but not least, make sure to also leave 20 minutes a day for yourself to rest, relax, and do something just for you. (Catching up on household tasks does not count) This time allows you to restore yourself.
If your teen or young adult child is struggling socially or emotionally, I can help you to discover the cause and remedy it.
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