Ten Tips For Christmas With Your Teen
Of course, it's not just for Christmas, it's for life ... but here are ten tips put together by our child specialist Atty Lennox that will help you engage in a positive relationship with your teen over the Christmas holidays.
1. Stop and listen! If your teen tries to talk to you about their life, do your best to stop what you’re doing in the moment and listen. You can always get back to what your emails but there is no guarantee that you’ll get this precious moment with your teen back!
2. Don't do 'minnie me.' It's tempting, but try to avoid phrase like “when I was your age…” or “you should do this….” Your job is to support your teen finding out who they are and expressing their authentic self in the world.
3. Let them know you know. Recognise your teens positive qualities out loud. For example, “You are kind, thoughtful, creative, funny…” BUT: avoid complimenting beauty and intelligence.
4. Be gentle with the 'L' word. Avoid directly accusing your teens of lying. A more effective response could be, ‘I hear what you are saying and I am having difficulty believing it.’
5. Help them recognise their emotions. If your teenager is having trouble with their emotions, and you want to help them find balance, help them identify the feelings they are experiencing, with kindness and interest. For example, “You look frustrated right now.
What’s going on for you?” Even if this is not correct and they say, “No, I’m feeling super hurt…” at least you have initiated a dialogue and have helped them (and you) identify a feeling and given them a platform to express it in a direct way. This often helps reduce distress.
6. It's not really what they say .... Rather than reacting to what your teenage boy or girl is saying, listen to how they are saying it. It will validate their feelings and, at the same time, will help to regulate them. Your non-reactional response will maintain emotional balance as they navigate their inner storm with you. This also works with your spouse!
7. Be Regular. Keep family meal times regular and consistent as much as is practically possible. Consider regular evening meals or weekly Sunday meals.
8. Care for the Quiet. Notice if one or some of your children are occupying all the space in your family conversations. Ask the quieter ones about themselves in a respectful and curious manner. If you don’t get much response the first time, don’t give up. Keep trying.
This, at the very least, communicates care and acknowledgement.
9. Family Glue. Go on occasional family trips together even if you are met with resistance. Instilling this sense of cohesion and togetherness reinforces a sense of belonging, unity, and meaning. Include your step-children. (Be mindful to not treat your step children as second-class citizens. Offer them the same choices presented to your own children. Doing your best to make them feel included and valued goes a long way in creating family unity and harmony.)
10. Be positive. Maintain positive feelings about your teens. Don’t hold on to negative feelings.