If you were to ask the parent of a teenager the one recommendation they would give to parents whose kids are fast approaching those years, they would likely say, “Keep communication open.”
As young children enter puberty, around 8-9 years old, they will continue to enjoy times alone with you talking about all kinds of issues. But as they mature, even as soon as 10 years old, they will likely begin to pull away from you and become less open with you.
So, what can you do to hold the door of communication open between you and your adolescent?
When school is out and you have more time to relax together as a family, simply enjoy your time with your adolescent. Make plans that help you remove the intensity of parenting a pre-teen and just have fun.
Fun, however, for an adolescent takes on a different meaning than it might for adults. Here are some suggestions for ways to make the time fun for your child and shows them outwardly that you understand their needs.
Give them time to themselves as a gift from you.
Plan activities that get their dopamine, risk-reward system, going. Put competitive outdoor activities into your summer plans and keep your adolescents moving.
Include their friends in some of your plans. Although having the family together is important, now that you have entered the world of adolescence, include their friends whenever possible. Believe me, this is a win-win for you; your child will be happy and you will get to know their friends better. Listen carefully during these times. You might learn some important information that will help you understand your adolescent a little better.
Encourage them to be part of the decision-making for your plans. They are at an age when choice is very important to them and if you include them, they are more likely to want to be part of what is decided. Be prepared for some interesting ideas offered by them.
While you are having fun with your adolescent this summer, be generous with hugs and compliments (as much as they will allow). They might resist, but inside, they will love it. Even though you say out loud how much you love them, and shower them with compliments and love, including them in planning, acknowledging their preferences for how they spend their time, and letting them have their friends around is solid PROOF for them. It’s you “walking the walk” of loving them and respecting them.
When your teen sees the proof that they have your respect, they will be more willing to share their trials and tribulations with you when they arise.
This is the ultimate parenting win!