Individuals go through big changes as they enter their teenage years. Between the ages of 12 and 17, parents and caregivers can expect teens to become more independent and learn to think for themselves. Because relationships with friends become very important during this time, many teens spend less time with their families than they did as younger children. Sometimes, it may feel like your teen doesn't need you anymore. But teens still need love, support, and guidance.
What You Might Be Seeing:
- A craving for independence.
- Questions challenging rules and authority.
- Testing your – and their – limits.
What You Can Do:
Simple, everyday activities can reinforce the connection between you and your teen. Make room in your schedule for special times as often as you can, but also take advantage of routine activities to show that you care.
Tips to keep in mind:
- Have meals together. If it's impossible to do every night, schedule regular dinner nights together that accommodates everyone’s schedule.
- Share "ordinary" time. Look for everyday opportunities to bond with your teen. Even times spent driving or walking the dog together offer chances for your teen to talk about what's on their mind.
- Get involved, be involved, and stay involved. Go to games and practices when you can. Ask about homework or projects. Look for chances to learn about your teen's latest hobby.
- Get to know their friends. Knowing your teen’s friends is an important way to connect with your teen. Make your home a welcoming place for your teen and their friends. Also get to know the parents or caregivers of your teen’s friends, when possible.
- Be interested. Make it clear that you care about your teen's ideas, feelings, and experiences. If you listen to what they are saying, you'll get a better sense of the guidance and support needed.
- Set clear limits. Teens still need your guidance, but you can involve your teen in setting rules and consequences. Make sure consequences are related to the behavior and be consistent in following through. Choose your battles. Try to provide choices in the matters that are less important.
- Safety First. You play an important role in keeping your teen safe. From wearing a helmet, to discussing the dangers of risky behaviors, talk with your teen to share your thoughts and feelings. Listen to what they say and answer questions honestly and directly.
Remember, your words and actions help your teen feel secure. Don't forget to say and show how much you love your teen! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips to help you understand and connect with young teens, and teenagers. If you need additional information and resources, your EAP can help. Your EAP offers a variety of parenting resources, and they are just a phone call away. For more information, contact your Component EAP or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.