Teenagers aren’t necessarily fans of ‘big, serious’ conversations, but these topics still need to be discussed.
We know that parents are the biggest influence ina teen’s life. Even when you may feel like your child is pulling away and screaming for more independence, deep down they still want you involved, according to reports from drugfree.org. It’s important to do all you can to maintain a strong bond with your child, especially during their teen years, to help minimize the likelihood that they will engage in unhealthy behaviors.
Here are a few things you can do, courtesy of drugfree.org.
1. ) Stay involved. Be involved and present at your teen’s activities – both online and off. Make sure that they know you care. This will help you further develop a stronger parent-teen relationship. Let them know why you’re interested in their actions and where they are going and to stress it’s not to be intrusive, but rather because you’re interested in them and you care about them. It is a delicate balance, according to drugfree.org, to respecting your child’s growing independence while setting rules and boundaries. And experts indicate finding the right balance requires “effective communication, making constant adjustments, and staying in touch with what’s going on in their lives.”
2.) Consider these tips from drugfree.org to help make ‘keeping tabs’ a seamless part of your regular routine:
- Share quality, in-person time without distraction whenever you can. This may be during meals, taking a walk together, while you’re in the car, or just hanging out at home together.
- Ask specific questions about their day to show you’re interested. Avoid making it an interrogation by asking questions like “how was soccer practice?”, or “what’s planned for play rehearsal tonight?”.
- When friends come to your house, pop in to meet them or say hello and be sure to check in with them regularly.
- Be sure to know your child’s friend’s parents. Introduce yourself, email them, check-in, etc.
- Ask teachers, coaches, and other caring adults in your child’s life about how they are doing in school or with other activities.
- Connect with the school as a volunteer or in other school-sponsored activities.
- And be sure to check in on online and phone activities, especially social media.
It would be fitting for your teen to push back as you attempt some of these tips, but don’t back off. Experts encourage you to help your teen understand that you’re involved because you love them and not because of a lack of trust.
3.) Find opportunities for real conversations. Research continues to suggest that when it comes to substances, a teen’s parents are the most important influence. Talk about the negative effects of nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. Clearly communicate that you don’t want your teen using substances and tell them why. Look for blocks of time to talk such as after dinner, before bed, before school, or in the car. You can also just take a regular walk together or go for a drive. When there’s a bit less eye contact your teen won’t feel as though they are under a microscope.
4.) Approach your conversations with openness. Be sure to keep an open mind and remain curious and calm. Ask your teen open-ended questions to facilitate more engaging conversations. And listen more than you talk to let your teen know they are understood and heard.
5.) Offer plenty of empathy and support. Make sure your child understands they are heard and that you are there for them. Teen years can be tough and acknowledging that everyone struggles sometimes is an important aspect inc creating that bond with your child. But, you should also reassure them that drugs and alcohol are not a useful or healthy way to cope with problems. Be sure your child knows they can trust you.
For more information on youth prevention visit adctusc.org.