Embracing the new normal of today can be daunting and stressful, especially for teens. How can parents work to re-connect and build-up their relationships with tweens and teens struggling during COVID-19 while promoting positive mental health?
Deborah Ann Davis, parenting skills coach and author of the new book How To Keep Your Daughter from Slamming the Door, emphasizes the importance of promoting positive relationships with our teens, especially during times of intense change and stress.
Here are Deborah’s top 4 tips on how parents can reconnect with their teen during COVID-19:
Tip #1: Let it go
Address the uncertainty of what this school year holds. Nothing you say or do can change that situation. The best way to handle it is to let go of the things you cannot control. Once you orient yourself to focus on things you can control, talk to your teen about how “our job is to learn to be flexible. We’ll deal with tomorrow together when it comes. Go ahead and make today count.” It’s never too late to hold this conversation, so if school has already begun for you, have at it!
Tip #2: Conversation is Key
Conversation is key to a good relationship, to understanding the world around you and how you fit into it, and to the exploration of new thoughts and ideas. The more you interact in a positive manner with your teen, the more understood they will feel. The more they trust you, the more they’ll open up to you, even when the conversation is difficult.
Tip #3: Where to Begin
Sometimes the best way to engage your teen in conversation is to use an outside source to generate a topic. Choose an article, a song, or even a comic strip to share with them. After you share your tidbit, engage in a short, five-minute conversation on how they, their best friend, and maybe other friends or family would react to that. Listen without judgment. Their ideas and opinions are theirs, and they entitled to them. The proper response from you is, “That’s interesting!” Lastly, give them a hug, tell them how much you enjoy the person they’re becoming, and sail out of the room, leaving them in the warm, fuzzy wake of a positive interaction.
Tip #4: Position Your Conversation
Set the stage to invite conversation. My favorite way to initiate a tête-à-tête with my daughter is to set up a side-by-side situation. Go for a stroll together and see where the conversation leads you, do a chore together, or even have them pick a recipe for you to experiment on together. When your activity ends, say, “I really enjoyed myself with you. Thank you for spending the time with me, especially when you have so much on your mind.” Give them one last hug, and leave them in their own space, basking in the warmth of your love.