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When your child was younger, they depended on you for everything and thought you were the best human in the world. Now that they’re getting older, though, things have changed. You can’t seem to connect with them as easily — or at all.
You’re ready to have your “baby” back and are willing to do whatever it takes. But how do you reconnect with your tween or teenager? Here are a few tips that I hope will help!
Embrace the Fact That They’re Older
The first thing to do is to acknowledge and embrace that, although your child may always feel like they’re your “baby”, in reality, they get closer to adulthood every day — and want to be treated accordingly.
This isn’t to say that you should treat them like adults when they’re still several years away. But it is a good idea to embrace the fact that they’re older, more independent, and coming into their own.
Give them the space and opportunity to stretch those muscles. Give them reasonable privacy. Allow them a bit more freedom (again, within reason and with their safety always in mind). Show them that you’re proud of and trust the person they’re becoming.
Showing this type of love and support can help your child feel safe and secure, which (in turn) can make it easier for you to reconnect with them.
Show Interest in What They Care About
As our children grow and change, so do the things they care about. They develop new hobbies, new passions, and new friendships.
Continue to show your love and support by showing an interest in these things. Ask questions. Give positive feedback. Invite their friends over. Offer to do things that will make it easier for them to engage in their hobbies. They’ll appreciate it!
And it may open the door for you to spend time together partaking in those very activities.
Cook as a Family
Cooking together can be a great way to bond with your family. For one, it gives you a chance to have casual chats with each other. It also promotes teamwork as you collaborate to create something delicious.
Plus, it gives kids a chance to learn new skills — which can be exciting and boost their confidence.
Ask your child to join you in the kitchen to cook dinner. Bonus points if you let them choose what to make. You can even extend the experience by going shopping together to gather ingredients.
Another fun thing you can do is try new dishes. Maybe you can subscribe to a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Then have fun unpacking the box and making the recipes. You could also turn on a cooking show and follow along as the chefs prepare the recipe.
Have Family Meals
Another great way to connect as a family is around the dinner table. Granted, unless you homeschool and/or work from home, chances are you can’t spend every meal together.
But even just having dinner as a family can give you a nightly chance to bond and talk. Not sure what to talk about? Here are two games that can help:
This engaging card game features 100 prompts to encourage table-time talk. With thought-provoking and hilarious questions for the whole family, it’s the perfect way to generate discussions, and share experiences (such as your first job and popular slang from your childhood) that help you all get to know more about each other.
This special edition features 3 themed packs of family conversation starters:
Heroes: Explore what makes a person a hero and tap into your family’s inner heroes.
Right or Wrong: Explore what each of you would do in a series of interesting what-if situations.
Family On-the-Move: Conversations to have no matter where you are.
Share a Funny or Touching Memory
Have you ever heard a cool story from a relative about their childhood? Or maybe something about YOU when you were younger that you didn’t know?
These stories about ourselves and the people we think we know can be really intriguing and open the door for even more conversation. It can also remind us that our loved ones know more about us than most people — and sometimes we need that reminder.
Whenever possible, share stories like this with your kids. You never know what kind of reaction it will elicit!
Have a Date Night
When was the last time you and your child went out and enjoyed each other’s company while doing something fun? If you can’t remember or it’s been a good while, it’s time to change that!
Think about the things your child enjoys doing and then plan a day when you go and do just that. You can even get their input on how to spend the date night. Here are some indoor and outdoor family date night ideas to get you started:
- Go to the movies
- Make s’mores around a campfire
- Go skating
- Go bowling
- Go to a mini-golf course
- Go swimming
- Go to the zoo
- Go to an amusement park
- Go shopping
- Go to the spa or salon
- Go to a karaoke spot
- Attend a paint party
- Play laser tag
- Have a family game night
- Go to an arcade
- Fly kites
- Go stargazing
Listen More Than You Talk
Another way to reconnect with your child is to simply listen. Actively and fully. Truly listen to what they say — whether they’re talking about something that’s troubling them, sharing their thoughts on something going on, or talking about their current interests.
There may be times when you’re tempted to interrupt them — especially if you feel like you have something important to say. Resist! Let them finish their thoughts before you say what you have to say.
Not only does this let them know that you care about what they have to say, but it may also give them the opportunity to share something you may have no clue about!
Let Them Know Your Door is Open
Let your child know that they can ALWAYS come to you for anything — whether they have a dilemma, need to get something off their chest, have a question, or just want some company.
Reassure them that there’s nothing they can’t come to you with and that you will always be there to help them with whatever life throws their way.
Sometimes, just being reminded that you are, indeed, a safe harbor for them, can be enough to draw your kids back in.
Speak Their Love Language
There’s a lot of talk about love languages with couples, but we often forget that love languages are a human thing — not just a romantic thing. This means our kids have them as well! Figure out your child’s love language and then invoke that as much as possible. Here are some ideas for how to show love to your child based on their love language:
If your child’s love language is quality time, set aside time each week for you to be with them doing something they enjoy.
During that time, be sure to give them your undivided attention and really throw yourself into whatever activity you’re engaging in. Even if you can only do this for a short period of time, making the time to be with them is what matters.
Acts of Service
If your child’s love language is Acts of Service, then they love when people do something for them. Perhaps you can fix their bed for them or offer to help them with their homework.
If your child is a teenager, maybe you could do something like make sure their car has a full tank of gas or an oil change. Something to show them that you want them to feel taken care of.
If your child’s love language is physical touch, then they love things like hugs, pats on the back, and holding hands. They may also enjoy random cuddle sessions.
Kids whose love language is gift-giving enjoy receiving gifts (both large and small) that make them feel seen, remembered, and understood.
Surprise them with their favorite treat the next time you go grocery shopping. Give them a little gift that you know will put a smile on their face. Buy them something that supports a hobby they have.
Words of Affirmation
If your child’s love language is Words of Affirmation, they crave verbal reminders that you love and appreciate them. Leave sweet and inspirational notes for them in their lunch or on their pillow. Tell them you’re proud of them. Tell them you love them. Tell them you appreciate them.
I hope that these tips help you get closer to and reconnect with your tween or teenager. Is there something else you’ve tried that seems to work? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!