We all want our children to feel loved and valued, but when they hit their teenage years, this can start to feel like an uphill battle.
Even when they act like they don’t care, we want to make our teens feel trusted, understood, and valued. In fact, pretending they don’t care is often a sign that they are asking for more attention but can’t articulate it properly.
So, what can you do as a parent to ensure your child feels safe, valued, and heard?
Well, there are a whole range of scientifically-backed ways to make sure your child feels secure in their relationship with you, which will, in turn, make them a more confident person.
How To Build Trust
One of the frustrating things about trust is that it is a lot easier to break than it is to build.
Trying to build trust with teenagers is a particularly difficult task because their brains work differently from our brains. Teenage brains go through huge changes and they are not always capable of thinking logically. Hitting puberty also causes extreme mood swings, embarrassment, and reduces memory capability.
Building trust (or rebuilding trust) is not something that can be done quickly. But, by taking small steps over time, you can build a really strong bond with your teen.
Trusting you will be the foundation of your child’s life. No matter what happens at school, with their friends, or in their love life – at the end of the day they can come home to you and find emotional support.
That’s not to say that you have to be perfect or give in to every whim of your teen. In fact, it is better for you to make choices that keep your teen safe, even if they don’t understand the choices you’ve made.
So, what can you do to build trust with your teen:
- Respect them while they are exploring who they are – don’t judge or criticize them when they do something like trying out a new look
- Let them make their own mistakes in hard decisions but be there for them when things go wrong
- Let them have private spaces in the house, don’t invade their privacy (i.e. knock when you enter a room and don’t read their diary or their phone messages).
- Be there for them to talk to whenever they need to
- Respect their opinions, especially on topics they are currently learning. Ask them questions that will expand their thinking rather than shutting them down or telling them they’re wrong
How To Make Them Feel Understood
You probably remember that when you were a teen, no one understood you.
If you think back to that time now, most people will be able to admit that it wasn’t for their parent’s lack of trying. Most of this feeling comes from the fact that teens are still trying to understand themselves.
They are discovering passions at this time that might shape their lives, they are discovering new music, experimenting with new styles, and even making new friends with interests completely different to theirs.
On top of that, they are under a lot of pressure from school and may be experiencing some level of bullying, or feel the need to bully others.
They have all of these confusing feelings before you add the mental health destroying pressure that comes with being a teen on social media.
It is important for you to bear in mind that being a teenager now is very different from how being a teenager was when you were growing up. There is more pressure on teens than ever before. They are under a lot of pressure to grow up as fast as possible.
As their parents, you want to do two things – (1) support them through these changes even if you don’t understand their choices, and, (2) provide a space for them to act their true age if they want to.
They are still young, and will sometimes want to escape the pressures of growing up.
5 Ways To Make A Teenager Feel Valued
You’re reading this article because you want some practical advice on how to improve your relationship with your teen.
Here are 5 ways that you can make your teenager feel more valued.
Offer To Spend Time Doing Things That Your Teen Loves
It is important to spend time with your teen doing the things that they like rather than just the things that you like.
Listen to the things your teen talks about and come up with some ways you can incorporate that into your plans together – you could go record shopping or to a gig if they love music.
Be Affectionate On Their Terms
Your teen might just be less affectionate because they are uncomfortable with their body or feeling embarrassed by everything.
However, when they do want to be affectionate with you, jump on that chance.
Tell Them You Love Them
On the good days, on the bad days, and on every other kind of day. You want to make it clear to your teen with your words and actions that you love them and they matter to you.
Make Some Of Their Interests Your Interests
If your teen is really passionate about something, try to learn a little more about it so you can have some in-depth conversations about the topic.
Focus On The Positive
It can be really easy to only criticize people, but when you are dealing with a teen you need to make sure you are giving out more praise.
Instead of telling them off for getting a B rather than an A, let them know you are proud of them for passing. Thank them on the days they come home on time or early, as well as telling them off when they come home late.
Trust and understanding are two of the key blocks in building a good relationship with your teenager.
One of the best things you can do for your teen is to be patient with them. This is the time in their life when they are discovering who they are. They need someone to be on their side during this time.
What your teen does may not always make sense to you but you can make them feel more valued by accepting and supporting them while they are going through all these changes.