1. Walk and Talk
Asking your family members to sit down and have an important meeting to talk can instill feelings of anxiety and dread. No one likes to be forced to talk about their feelings. Instead of saying “we need to talk,” have casual and natural conversations with family members. I call it ‘walk and talk.’ You don’t have to literally be walking, but the ‘walk’ stands for participating in an activity you both enjoy and talk while doing it. Offer to have a spa day together with your teen or start an art and crafts project you will both enjoy. While you complete these activities, ask them about their lives and if something is troubling them. You may want to start off by telling them about small and funny things troubling you at your workplace. This lets them know that even adults have problems like they do.
Every family member is entitled to their space and privacy, regardless of age. Constantly peering over their shoulders will make them feel tense. Using spyware or spying programs to keep tabs on your kids is borderline abusive, adding a layer of stress for your teens in addition to their troubles. Relieve this stress by allowing them to have their space and privacy. Let them know that they have a right to privacy, but to always come to you when they reach questionable areas or unsure about things. Space doesn’t always mean individualism and letting your teen go at it alone. Letting them know you are always there to help can be reassuring to them.
3. Importance Not Pressure
Grades are important, but they are not the end of the world if they receive a failing mark on their report card. This can be a huge source of anxiety for teenagers. Be sure to differentiate between placing importance on aspects of their lives and pressuring them. Some pressure is good, but placing crippling pressure on aspects of their lives that won’t kill them is key to maintaining a bond with them.
4. Family Outings
Consider planning a small family outing where all members can participate and enjoy. Don’t pick camping trips and force your family members to put down their phones. Technology has enriched our lives and enhances the way we enjoy activities. Let your family members take pictures of the camping trip and post them on social media. Take a trip to the beach and let your teen look up on their phone fun ways to avoid sunburn. Pick family outings and let each family member enjoy the aspect of it that they do. Maybe your teen might like to try their hand at barbecuing.
5. Provide Don’t Punish
Would you punish your spouse if they didn’t wash the dishes? Then why would you punish your trouble teen? Providing incentives and positive methods of reinforcement have been shown to have long-term benefits. Family members want to know they are there for each other for support, rather than an eye over their shoulder waiting for the chance to jump and punish them.