The teenage years mark a significant change in the parent-child relationship.
Teenagers start to make more decisions themselves, spend more time with friends, and push more boundaries.
Although parents often remember what this time was like, they may feel sad about the change in relationship and concerned about their teen making a bad decision.
Teenagers often also report wanting to stay close to family but fear they won't be understood by their parent.
Open, non-judgmental communication between parent and teen has been found to strengthen the parent-child relationship, reduce risky behavior and help teens manage emotions such as anger, anxiety and sadness.
So how can parents and teens stay close even when emotions are running high?
- Listen. The most important thing you can do is stop talking and start listening to your teen. Listen with the goal to understand them, not to correct, punish or judge them.
- Don't offer advice. You probably know exactly what you would do but this isn't helpful to a teenager who is learning to make their own decisions. Ask questions to help your teen come to their own answer.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. You're going to go through many battles over the teenage years, so decide in advance what are most important and stick to them while letting go of the small stuff.
headspace Goulburn also offers support to families of young people.
If you'd like to improve your relationship with your teen, the Tuning into Teens program is for you! Contact the office for more information.
If you or someone you know needs support call: Lifeline (13 11 14); Mental Health Line (1800 011 511); Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800); Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636); or 000 if a life is in immediate danger.
- Sarah Carters - headspace Family Clinician / Youth Counsellor