It’s Summer! – 4 Tips on How to Become Closer with Your Teen
By Jeanette Lorandini
Hooray for summer! Summer vacation, road trips, family picnics, and barbecues are all typical summertime events.
Yet, summer offers a break not just from school. It also mixes up the schedule that your family typically follows for most of the year.
What this can offer you is more opportunities to interact and become closer with your teen. Which, can be especially important if you are working to improve the relationship with your child.
The best place to start is by working on your communication skills. Improving this particular skill set can really help to increase your connection.
Also, working with a therapist who specializes in teen counseling can be helpful as you improve these skills. At Suffolk DBT, our therapists for teens have the experience and tools to help you effectively.
In the meantime, try using these tips to break down the wall between you and your teen.
1. Avoid Using Imperatives
One way to improve your relationship and become closer with your teen is to avoid using imperatives. Imperatives are words that communicate to your child that you are telling them to do something now.
For example, “I need you to pay attention.” Although this might be true, using the word “need” tells your child not that you have a need, but that you are bossing them around.
Thus, they will be more reactive and less interested in hearing what you have to say. Let alone, having a desire to fulfill the need. Instead, use requests to communicate your wishes to your child.
2. Become a Better Listener
A very important part of communication is listening. This is true for any kind of relationship, but especially for one with your teen.
What does it take to really listen? Here are a few tips:
- Make the time to listen, especially if your teen asks to talk to you.
- Create space where there will be few or no distractions.
- Pay attention to what they are saying, especially details.
- Reflect back what they say.
- Ask for clarification.
Developing listening skills is a lifelong practice. However, this is when working with a specialist in teen counseling could be useful. Mostly, because a counselor can coach you on your listening skills so that you can be more effective when communicating with your teen.
3. Seek to Understand Your Teen
Oftentimes, adults will hear a teen start talking and either mentally or actually roll their eyes at them. Then, the adult begins speaking from their perspective—despite not actually taking into account what the teen is trying to say.
These kinds of interactions do not strengthen the relationship with your teen at all. In fact, they can drive your teen further away.
To become closer with your teen, you need to be willing to understand them. In short, it’s vital to acknowledge their perspective and viewpoint. Show interest in what they’re saying, and ask open-ended questions to encourage them to talk more.
Even if your teen’s thoughts don’t align with your perspective, make an attempt to understand who they are as individuals.
4. Offer Validation
Finally, you can become closer with your teen by validating what they are saying, thinking, and feeling.
Remember, validation does not necessarily mean you agree with them. It does, however, show to them that you heard your teen, understand where they are coming from, and acknowledge that their perspective is valued.
That is much more important than being “right” vs. “wrong” in a discussion or argument. In fact, validating your teen can really help with de-escalating a potential argument before it even starts.
When You Need More Support
If you have tried these ideas and are still struggling to forge a closer relationship with your teen, then it might be time for teen counseling. This can be beneficial for them, and for you.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to have an outsider’s perspective on what’s happening in your relationship. Also, a teen counselor can coach both of you on better ways to improve your communication.
Summertime is not just a time to relax and have fun. It can also be an excellent time to become closer with your teen and improve your relationship.
If you encounter roadblocks or dead-ends, consider getting additional help through teen counseling to learn more about how we can help. At Suffolk DBT, you can find an expert therapist for teens that is committed to supporting your family and your unique needs. Reach out to us today, or visit our page on teen counseling to learn more about how we can help.
Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced NYC therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges.