Top 5 Things to Say to Your Teenager

Your relationship with your teenager can often seem strained resulting from busy schedules, power struggles, and just the basic process of growing up. Here are the top 5 things that you can say to help maintain a positive rapport with your teen, despite your differences:

1. “I love you”

This sounds simple, and overstated. However, you would not believe how many teens I have counseled that have told me “I know my parents love me, but they never actually tell me they do.” While they dismiss this due to “my mother/father just doesn’t talk about feelings,” deep down everyone breathing needs to be told they are loved.

Parent tip: If your teen is embarrassed by public gushiness, then write him/her a note and leave it in a special place to be discovered.

2. “Thank you”

A word of thanks goes along way, especially for a teenager. Many parents challenge me on why they should say thanks to their son/daughter for “doing those things (chores, good grades, dressing appropriately, etc) that they should be doing?” My answer is simple: Don’t you like it when others show their appreciation to you for even the mundane things in life? Why would it be any different for teens? In a world that demands so much, gratitude is so refreshing.

Parent Tip: Send your teen a random text message today thanking them something they have done, even if it is expected.

3. “I’m sorry”

Perhaps the three most powerful words that can make or break any relationship are “I am sorry.” Yet, for some they are the most difficult three words to say. Saying I am sorry to your teen shows respect for their feelings and authenticity as a person. It eliminates the one up man ship between parent/child, and models healthy conflict resolution.

Parent Tip: Do you really want to shock your teen? In addition to apologizing, ask your teen for their forgiveness for your offense.

4. “You are important just because you exist.”

Our culture rewards accomplishments and ridicules failure. Thus, it sends the message that if you are successful then you are valuable and if you fail you are less than. Positive affirmations must be filled with descriptions of character, not just achievements. Successes and personality are equally significant.

Parent Tip: Handout positive affirmations about your teens attributes, not just achievements. Example: “You’re brilliant” rather than “Great job on that A.”

5. “You are worthy of my time.”

This can be said and shown to your teen. Spend time with your teen getting to know him/her. Become an observer of their personality, beliefs, and passions. Treat them as if you are meeting them for the first time, and really want to get to know them. They may resist your attempt, especially if is new to both of you. However, generally persistence is the key.

Parent Tip: Spend 10-15 minute each morning or evening 3-5 days per week in conversation with your teenager, where you are listening more than talking. You may be surprised by the person they have become.

This phase can be challenging for both you and your teenager. But can be manageable and enjoyable with maintaining open communication and respect for one another.

About the Author: Terre Grable

Terre Grable is a Christian licensed professional counselor. She enjoys helping parents and teens become better friends when they feel like enemies.


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