It’s a new year and while you may have new goals surrounding your career, household, fitness journey or self-care routine – have you thought about the goal of being more present in your teen’s life this year?
Your initial thought may be – Dr. Jen, I don’t believe my teen WANTS me in their life more! But presence doesn’t need to be overbearing… by simply taking a few minimalistic steps in being emotionally available, you are laying the groundwork for connection between you and your teen 🙂
- Fill YOUR Cup: first things first, you need to be sure YOUR cup is full. In order to approach any new or stressful scenario that may come up with your teen this year with love and grace, you need to take care of yourself. This looks different for everyone, but some of my favorite ways of taking care of me are riding the Peloton, reading in the evening to wind down and catching up with close friends. Write down 3 ways you like to care for YOU and make those a priority each week this year!
- Clear House Rules and Boundaries: if you find yourself having the same fight with your teen about something such as making curfew, it’s time to regroup. Set up a family meeting by giving your teen some options and letting them choose when, then incorporate dessert or fun snacks and watch the pace change 😉 Re-establish the non-negotiable rules you have in your home (10pm curfew), as well as the privileges for following through (being allowed to take the car out on the weekend).
- Meet your teen halfway if it’s safe: as you are establishing the house rules above, be flexible in changing them! If it’s a rule that was established 2 years ago, acknowledge that your teen may be ready for more independence. For example, add an extra 30 minutes to curfew.
- Begin each morning with a compliment or gratitude note: yes this may be “cheesy AF” in the words of your teen 😂 but by simply saying something you love about them when you first see them, sending a text as they are starting school, or by leaving a sticky note on the steering wheel with a “being YOU is more than enough” you are giving them the opportunity to start the day on a positive note. That way, whatever else comes at them that day at school or sports, they have a piece of positivity and love that sticks with them all day 🙂 even if they think it’s weird, deep down they will appreciate it!
- Schedule a monthly 1:1 “date”: time is sacred and being available for your teens, no matter how busy the daily routine, is SO important. Choose something THEY are excited to do with you and Do NOT cancel or reschedule this, consistency is key in these commitments.
When things get tough this year, go back to these 5 key strategies. I know you care so much about your relationship with your teen and while it is sometimes easy to fall back and leave them alone when they are pushing you away, recognize that those are the times they may need you the most! Just remember, be gentle in your approach and always default to love and respect – your child is developing into an adult and needs your support regardless of their daily actions!