If you want to get closer to your teenager, firstly, start noticing all the little things they do that are good or just OK.
Teenagers often feel criticised by their parents – so try to stop yourself noticing all the bad things they do and spot the little things they do right. And be quite specific about what they did that you liked. Something like:
‘Thank you for taking your things through to the kitchen.’
‘Hey, you got home when you said you would – I appreciate that.’
‘I know you were annoyed with me earlier. And you didn’t shout or raise your voice. I know that took a lot of self-control.’
‘I noticed that the towel was on the rail this morning. Thank you for hanging it up.’

Secondly, spend at least 15 minutes every day listening to them. It can be about school, friends, what’s going on in their world. You can do it in the car but make a conscious effort just to listen to them.
Ask questions about what’s been going on in their world, and about things they’ve talked about like tests or friends.
And here’s the important bit. Don’t criticise them – or do anything to show you disapprove – and don’t offer them any advice about what they should do. That may be hard. But just let them talk. And at the end, you can ask… so what will you do about that? And let them answer.
Your teenager needs to be solving their own problems, and they don’t like being told what to do.
So, ask questions but don’t give advice.

Finally, empathise with your teenager. This means – let them know that you understand the way they’re feeling. It doesn’t mean you agree with them–just that you ‘get’ how hard it is for them.
It’s surprising how this simple tip will stop your teenager’s behaviour from getting worse.
So say aloud why you think your teenager is annoyed or frustrated or upset. And keep it short and casual.
‘You seem really fed up that Jamie let you down like that’.
‘You look upset about the game. It’s a shame you lost. You’d worked so hard.’
‘You seem really angry that your sister borrowed the jumper without asking.’
‘You look a bit annoyed that I’ve asked you to help when you’re watching TV.’
And you don’t add a ‘but’ afterwards. Don’t say ‘but you have to’ you just leave it that you understand. And see how much quicker they get through it.

So, if you feel a bit distant from your teenager three things you can do are:

  1. Start noticing the good things they do.
  2. Spend 15 minutes a day listening to them.
  3. And empathise and show some understanding when they’re having a hard time.

If you found this useful, visit my website parent4success and sign up for my ‘Video tips for raising Teenagers’, and you’ll get my latest video blogs sent straight to your inbox.

If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy, well-behaved children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

Need help now? Ready to explore whether investing in some tailor-made parenting sessions would be right for you and your family? Book your FREE 20-minute call with Elizabeth here