Communicating with your teen is essential for building a strong relationship.

Relationship Building Exercises for Teens & Parents

by Michelle McFarland-McDaniels

It is common for children to pull away from their parents during the teenage years. Adolescence is a time when teens experience rapid physical, mental, cognitive and emotional development. It is also a time when their social circle widens and they begin to develop a keen interest in relationships with peers. This is largely the result of a natural desire to forge their own identity and assert their independence. Unfortunately, this can cause some teens and parents to grow apart. However, with patience, determination, and some tried and true relationship-building exercises, you can maintain a strong, close and loving relationship with your child.

1. Communicating

Communication is crucial for relationship building. Engage in meaningful communication with your teenage child. Talk openly and often. Be a good listener. Make it clear to your child that you want to hear what she has to say. Create an atmosphere where your teen can feel comfortable expressing herself honestly. When speaking with your teen, use supportive language and refrain from coming across as being judgmental.

2. Connecting

It is extremely important to stay connected with your teen, both physically and emotionally. Get to know your child as a teen. The young person your teenager has evolved into is not necessarily the child you perceive him to be. Find out what is important to him and let him know you care about those things as well. Spend time with him. In order to build a strong relationship with a person -- even if that person is your own child -- you need to know who that person is, what his life is like and what he is all about.

3. Showing Interest

Letting your teen know you are interested in her life will help the two of you to develop a strong bond. Cheer for your child at her games. Bring flowers to her recitals. Tell her how proud you are of her accomplishments. Get to know her friends. Monitor her whereabouts. Ask her about her favorite television shows and bands. Become a part of her virtual life as well as her real life by joining her social networks. Be involved without being intrusive.

4. Sharing Experiences

Shared experiences deepen bonds between parents and teens. Make a point of spending quality time with your child doing things you both enjoy. Shopping, attending concerts and sporting events, or even hanging out at the beach or a park can give the two of you precious time to slow down, talk, reconnect and appreciate each other's company. Invite your child to participate in activities that are important to you. Graciously reciprocate when your child asks you to take part in his favorite pastimes.

About the Author

I am a freelance writer with nearly 25 years of experience. I have written for print, electronic and online media. My work has appeared on a number of Web sites, including MSNBC.com and BET.com. I have also worked as a newspaper researcher, editorial assistant, copyeditor and editorial consultant. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology, a master’s degree in literature and a master’s degree in education. In addition to my writing career, I am also an elementary school teacher. I am married and I am the mother of two little girls, both of whom have been diagnosed with autism.{{}}

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