Developing healthy relationships is important for your teen now and in the future. So much personal success depends upon interpersonal skills and upon the ability to build and sustain relationships. Use your teen's interests and a little creativity to find activities that will help her bond with you and with others so she is making connections now and learning the tools to do so in the future.
1. Mom and Dad
Go on a date with your daughter to provide an opportunity to bond one-on-one. Have a meal and talk about her interests, and share stories from your teen years. It helps to be a bit unguarded so she can see you as a real person. Have mani-pedis together if your teen is a beauty-loving gal or see a sports game together if she is a sports fanatic. If it has been a while since you've spent an evening with your teen, have a slumber party together where you can talk and play a few games. If an overnighter isn't possible, invest in some board games and card games, and start a tradition of weekly game nights or take a weekly class together such as art or cooking. Take turns doing an activity that each of you likes so that you're learning about each other's interests and taking turns being the “leader,” instructing and helping the other.
2. Sisters and Brothers
Help your teen and her siblings connect over fun activities, evenings at home or even over household chores. Set a weekly game night and have them make their own snacks if your kids like to bake, or take them to activities they both enjoy, such as ball games, a movie, laser tag or an art museum. For adventure, take them canoeing, white-water rafting, or go camping or even on a short hike. Hang back and let the kids buddy together. Make them responsible for preparing Sunday dinner or have them work on their chores together, instead of independently. Let them fight their own battles so they can learn to work out differences, and help them find ways to support each other.
Slumber parties can provide opportunities for your teen and her friends to get to know each other better. Plan games and movies, and set them loose, or let the girls have a bake-off. Let a group of cooking enthusiasts prepare a fancy meal for the evening with all the trimmings. Take young fashionistas shopping at the mall or organize a book club for your bookworms. Take them for manicures or to the latest chick flick, or encourage the girls to learn something new together, such as horseback riding or pottery making. Encourage your teen to email or call her friends just to talk. Encourage her be there when a friend is getting an award or cheer for them if they play a sport and help her to be there if a friend faces a loss, such as her favorite pet or a relative.
How your teen feels about herself and her ability to keep herself company is important. Pick up some books on self-improvement geared to teens and help her focus on the person inside. She can take a class or learn a new skill. Encourage her to get involved in the community, such as volunteering with a charitable organization or donating her time to a good cause. Help her arrange to tutor peers or younger children, visit with the elderly or sign up to run a race for charity. Help her start an exercise program to improve her health and well-being, and buy her a journal to write about her life and encourage her to include several things she likes about herself every day.
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