Ways to Stay Connected with Tweens and Teens

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By Jennifer Halter

As much as we may want our children to stay little forever, eventually, they will grow older, more
independent and in some cases, it’s like they turn into different people. They seem to need us less as
they are discovering things they are able to do on their own. They develop new friendships and get involved in different activities, sometimes making parents feel more like a chauffeur than an active participant. It can be difficult as a parent to know where you fit into your tween’s or teen’s life as they grow. However, maintaining and growing your connection with him or her is an important part of their development, regardless of how challenging it may be. Here are a few ways you can stay connected and foster your positive relationship with them.

Create Vision Boards

Do you want to really see what’s inside of their minds? Work together to create your own vision boards.
Through this process, they will be able to share about what they would like to have or accomplish in their
future. Perhaps they want to travel or start families of their own one day. Maybe they want to become a  doctor or artist but have never shared these dreams with you for fear of your reaction. Allowing them to have a space where they can dream big without limitations or scrutiny can help you get a good sense of their likes and interests without seeming like you are prying into their lives. Plus, they will get a glimpse into your mind, too. You may even have common goals that neither of you have shared with the other, which  can open opportunities for more connection.

Plan a Trip Together

Whether it’s a day trip, weekend getaway, or a longer vacation, planning a trip with your child is a great way
to manage their money or prepare and stick to a budget is important for their future. Take them to the
grocery store and let them shop from a list so they can come home and prepare a meal with what they
purchase. Teach them how to put gas in a vehicle or air in tires. Ask them what sort of things they would like to learn or may have questions about, if you need more ideas on things to teach. Have patience and remember all of these things were also new to you at one point in your life.

Give Them Time

young people

As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the gift of time. Designate a day, evening,
or if schedules are busy, at least one hour of time each week that’s all about your child. Let them choose a meal or a favorite movie to watch. Offer to just sit and have a conversation about school, friends, or their interests.

Give them your undivided attention, which may mean going screen-free for a bit. Even when your child may
seem like they don’t want to talk, in many cases, it’s the opposite. They want to be heard.

At this stage of life, more than ever, it’s important to stay connected to your child, even when it feels like they don’t want you around. They do still need you and the security and guidance you give them, even if they don’t know how to show or tell you.

Jennifer Halter (jenniferh@macaronikid.com) is a contributing writer and the founder of Macaroni Kid in
Woodbridge.

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