Three Simple Ways to Improve your Relationship with Your Child or Teen: Part 4 of 4 in the series

By Sarah Saffold and Laura Chackes

With all of the stress that we are currently experiencing, it’s more important than ever to keep our relationships strong so that they can provide us with support and some resilience to stress. By implementing these three practices with your child or teen, you will have the best chance of having a healthy and connected relationship with them.

Be mindful and intentional in your communication with your child.

  • Take deep breaths before a conversation to lower your nervous systems activation.
  • Speak calmly and be prepared to listen. 
  • Do not assume your answer is the only answer or even the correct answer.
  • Try not to use words like “always” or “never.”
  • Avoid sarcasm, threats, and yelling.
  • Don’t overreact initially- take some time to think your reaction through and tell your child that you’re doing this.
  • Don’t make personal attacks – try as hard as you can to keep it about a topic and not them.

Remember that you’re on the same team.

  • Work with your child to generate multiple possible solutions without demanding specific outcomes.
  • Remind your child that you are in their corner and they are not in this alone, and that you truly want them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
  • Come up with a plan together ahead of time that if your teen has something that may be hard to tell you or that you might react badly to, to warn you ahead of telling you about the situation, so you can already be employing deep breathing and purposeful non-reacting.
  • Have your child write a letter to you to communicate if something’s too hard to say in person

Show them that you value them by spending quality time together.

  • Spend time with them without the distraction of technology.
  • Make time each day, even if it’s hanging at the dinner table for 10 extra minutes, spending those extra minutes in the evening or taking them to Starbucks where you can really allow them a few moments to relax and make full eye contact.
  • Try to listen most of the time without offering your advice. Most times they just want to vent and don’t want the advice that usually comes with it. The more you can do that or just ask them their opinion, the more they’ll come to you.
  • Ask questions to show that you’re interested in their lives.
  • Take a class together like yoga, art, cooking, or whatever you both like to do. You can even try one of our upcoming mindfulness courses, Cultivating a Mindful Connection with Your Daughter (for girls ages 9-15 with a parent or other trusted adult) or Mindfulness for Health & Well-Being (for mature teens and adults).

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