Have you noticed how much our world has changed since we were teenagers? We were exposed to things on a much different level than young kids and teens are today. These days, even young children have access to things we would not have heard of at their age.
With homework being online much of the time, especially as our children get older, it becomes more and more challenging to protect them from influences they do not understand. With the added pressure of school, grades, college and work aspirations, peer pressure and hormones, our best bet as parents is in creating healthy relationships with our young children and our teens … as early as possible.
Take a moment and ask yourself these questions:
- How often do I have meaningful conversations with my kids?
- Who are their friends?
- What do they like about their friends?
- What do they like about themselves?
- Have they ever been offered drugs or alcohol?
- If so, what did they say, and why?
- Have they participated (or know someone who has participated) in sharing nude photos online? (Unfortunately, this is becoming common in middle and high school.)
Some of these questions are hard to even read, but this is what our kids face today. It is the world they are growing up in. How do we make appropriate adjustments? Do we ground them? Take away their phones? Block them from their friends? Take away their computer? Remove them from activities they enjoy? Do we punish, protect or pry? Many parents are wondering what will get their teen’s attention.
If your teens or even your younger children have already crossed the line of drugs, alcohol or nude picture sharing, I encourage you to reach out for assistance to ensure you get a handle on it immediately. If done incorrectly, you may do more damage than good. In any case, know that good communication is key and it is more important than ever. Relationships are built over time and they require an investment of time, consistently. A healthy parent-child relationship is what you want to be building. That will be your lifesaver in times of trouble and especially in the teen years.
Here are a few suggestions to help you enhance your parent-child relationship:
- Little ones (under 9): Talk about their day and your day while you take a walk together, ride bikes, eat an ice cream cone or snuggle on the couch. Get curious about who they are and what makes them tick. Life can’t be all about homework, athletics and chores. Children need joy and to feel cared about.
- Older ones (10-13): You may already be feeling the distance at this age. Take an interest in what they are interested in. Do it with them and ask what they like about it. Get them talking. Be sure you practice listening. It is hugely important!
- Teens: If they are hanging out with friends, have them hang out at your house. Get to know their friends. Be interested in what they are interested in. Curiosity goes a long way. Open as many doors to conversations as you possibly can. Be a good listener.
These are just a few of many ways to connect with your kids at various ages. If you are already disconnected, there are many ways to get that connection back as well. Call or email me for a complimentary 15-minute consultation (951-240-1407 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and I would be happy to share more ideas specific to your situation. You can also sign up for our free monthly newsletter for great parenting tips and insights.
One last thought … in life, the pressure can get intense, especially for teens. Find a way to be their relief and not their pressure. An unexpected treat, a listening ear or compassion about a hard day will help. If your teen can’t go to you to be encouraged, s/he will go somewhere else.