|Posted on January 26, 2015 at 7:00 AM|
“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Today’s Book: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character By Paul Tough
Do you ever wish you could turn back the clock to a time when your children shared everything and couldn’t get enough hugs? Your teenager might still let you hug them on occasion, but it’s always on their terms. Try it any other time and they turn into a human surfboard. I know all too well. I have two teenage boys myself.
The animal kingdom is full of similar phenomenon. Scientists believe that the teenage equivalents in animals exhibit obnoxious behavior for a reason. It drives the parents crazy enough to finally kick them out of the tree, cave, or burrow. It’s likely to be a similar phenomenon with human teenagers. Where would the human race be if no one ever left home?
However, it’s so important that we stay connected without children during this all important time of development. The time between childhood and adulthood. Especially in this day and age where the internet and social media are so prevalent in their lives. We need to make sure we stay connected and don’t lose sight of who they are becoming and let them know that we are there for them.
If you’d like to reconnect with your teenager, there are several things you can try:
1. Avoid forcing the closeness issue. Experts advise letting your teenager go when they pull away. They always come back and it’s important to be there for them when that happens.
• It’s a delicate balancing act. Chasing after them makes things worse. Not doing anything can send the message that you don’t care. Try
telling them that you understand they need space.
2. Discover new ways to be affectionate. A squeeze on the arm or a quick back scratch might be more acceptable to your teen than a hug or a kiss on the forehead. Affection can never go beyond the wishes of the person that wants the lesser amount.
3. Spend time on their terms. Adults like to sit down with a cup of coffee and chat. Teenagers like to watch YouTube videos or play video games.
• You might have to sit on the couch and endure the agony of a video game you can’t comprehend to spend time with your teenager.
4. It’s all about being present. Be part of your child’s day-to-day activities. Go to their ball games. They might not want to hear from you, but they like to know that you’re there.
5. Understand their need to look good to their friends. At some point, most adults attain a view of the world that permits them to comfortably get the mail in nothing but a bathrobe. But teenagers are very concerned with the opinions of their peers. It’s important to respect and nurture that. If you want to alienate your child, make them look bad in front of their friends.
6. Focus on listening. By the time our kids reach the teenage years, we’ve lived quite a bit and have plenty of advice to dish out. But many times, others would prefer we listen and keep our mouths closed. This is true with teenagers, too.
• It’s challenging, but try to just listen and keep quiet unless asked for advice. All relationships are enhanced by effective listening skills.
• Unless it’s important where danger exists, rules/laws are being broken or serious moral issues are on the line, try to hold back on your input
unless asked for.
7. Allow your child to make mistakes. While we’d all like to protect our children from everything, everyone needs to make mistakes and learn from them. Children that are over-protected frequently struggle when it’s time to face the world on their own.
• This is so tough because so many parent want to protect their children. But when you do everything for them, they don’t know how to handle
8. Remember what it was like. When you were a teenager, you were probably preoccupied with your peers and the opposite sex, worried about the future, and wanted more privacy. You child is no different.
It’s natural for space to develop between teenagers and their parents. A child can’t suddenly transform from being your little baby to fending for himself overnight. There’s a transitional period that everyone passes through. It’s challenging for both the teen and the parents.
It’s important to be available for your child but not smother them. Be patient and love them.
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