Your child’s teenage years are crucial for fostering a strong parent-child relationship.

The teenage years are never easy. For your children, these years are full of changes. As they are beginning to assert their independence, you may feel like they are pulling away from you.

By making the effort to understand what they are feeling, and the challenges they’re facing, you’ll feel less frustrated. Your parent-teen relationship will grow stronger too.

#1 Be Sensitive to Their Body Changes

As your teen goes through a series of body changes, they become sensitive and anxious about their physical development, conscious of their appearance and people’s perception of them.

Here are some tips on communication between parents and teenager:

  • Be sensitive with your comments on your teenagers’ body image and dressing. Help them look and feel better by not pointing out differences but by reassuring them that what they are going through is normal.
  • Rather than comparing them with others. give them the opportunity to develop at their own pace in their teenage years. It will give their mental wellbeing a boost.
  • Encourage teenager to engage in activities that will build up self-esteem — for example, taking on leadership roles in school or starting a new hobby. You could even pursue an interest together.

Related: Help Your Child Cope With Puberty and Self-esteem

#2 Dealing with Teenage Emotions Together

During puberty, while coping with the hormonal changes physically, your teen may also experience frequent mood swings.

Teenage hormones and emotions may impact their mental wellbeing. Here are some tips on handling them with your teenager:

  • Be patient if your teenager is being difficult or unreasonable. What your teenager needs is time to calm down and then discuss the matter.
  • Listen to and understand their feelings and the reasons behind their emotions. Listening will help to calm them down because they feel heard and cared for.
  • Try not to argue with them. Instead, speak to them objectively, keep things in perspective and explain your stand carefully.

As children enter their teenage years, they begin to want more autonomy to make decisions. They are trying to figure out how they are different from others and how they fit into the world. This is normal and not a sign of rejection of you. When your teenager shuts you out, it might feel that way.

Friends may become more important to them and have a larger influence over their thoughts and behaviours. Not all peer influences are bad. When the influences become undesirable, you’ll need to be there to set limits and ground rules.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Respect his or her privacy — let them have their own space at home, but try to engage them in conversations to find out more about their lives. For example, ask them about their friends, co-curricular activities, life in school, movies they have watched, instead of focusing only on their studies.
  • Have a healthy curiosity about what teens are into — be careful not to seem like you are prying. Taking an interest in their lives and learning from your teen will boost their self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
  • Trust them and allow them time to socialise with their friends — While you may disagree with the company they keep, try to avoid making comments about their friends. Instead, encourage lines of communication by asking about what they do together, Discuss the risks of engaging in harmful or unhealthy activities and suggest interesting alternatives for them to do. If possible, invite their friends to your home and find out more about them.
  • Try not to admonish your teen in public — If you need to punish them, do so in private settings and be careful not to hurt their pride.

In short, you can use these teenage years to strengthen your bond with them:

  • Understanding that comes from listening.
  • Spend quality time and participating in activities together.
  • Encourage them to try new things and show interest in what they are doing.

You can start doing these things today. The quality time and effort you put in building a parent-child relationship will go a long way in fostering a stronger and better relationship between both of you.

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