Start Now: 7 Easy Ways to Connect with your Teen

When my kids were little people would tell me to enjoy the time because their teenage years would not be as sweet. Beyond my own world, society bemoans the teen years complaining about the terrible teens. I predicted things such as eye rolls, habitual one-syllable responses, and a consistently closed bedroom door.

teenager, hoodie, hand

While teenagers are different from their younger selves, there’s so much to love about this age. There may be more moodiness, pushback, and less cuddles but that makes sense. During this major developmental task, teens are becoming their own person and are naturally pulling away from parents.

Not totally.

Not completely.

But they are preparing to lead their own life. They are becoming bona fide young adults. (Ummm, yikes!!!)

Let’s take a deep breath. 

One more. 

It can be difficult parenting teens but We. Can. Do. This. 

The Struggle-Bus

Struggling to connect with kids this age is normal. They are going through so much: physical changes, stress about good grades, decisions about sexual activity, fallouts from impulsive decisions, and attempting to learn healthy ways to manage new relationships not to mention increased demands on their time. 

five group of men sitting together with their skateboards

Even though we know how much kids are dealing with, we can still find ourselves frustrated by their lack of communication or push for independence. Or maybe there’s sadness caused by feeling as though the special bond and good times that you experienced with your young child has disappeared into the void never to return.

The good news is that your strong connection is still there, even if sometimes it’s lurking way, way behind an impatient offhand comment or absolutely zero eye contact. Another piece of good news is that you can still connect with your teenager, despite everything they are dealing with.

One great way to continue to build upon your relationship is to implement a few habits and tweaks that are teen and parent friendly. If you have kids across different age groups, these 7 ideas will help you build a closer relationship with them as well and will strengthen the entire family. 

Strategy 1: Short Time Wins + Humor

Be okay with connecting over short periods of time. You don’t have to spend 3 hours playing board games to make a memory. One round of Uno will do. Focus on positive experiences–quality, not quantity. One of the easiest ways to do this is by injecting humor into the day.

laughter, laugh, fun


Sometimes my husband and I will go and lay on our son’s bed and just tell him that we’re going to hang out in his room with him for a while. He knows by now that we’re joking but it always makes all of us laugh. My daughter likes tickles and silly jokes like posting a printout of something unexpected, crazy, or funny on her wall. Add some lightness no matter how stressful things get.  

Strategy 2: Team Family

It’s not abnormal for kids to be a bit (or a whole lot) self-absorbed at this age. They may not see the reason they need to dedicate a weekend morning to cleaning up the yard when there is somewhere else they’d rather be. Emphasize that you’re a family, a team. Everyone shows up for each other.

woman in black and white striped long sleeve shirt holding stainless steel bowl

While your teen may roll their eyes or grumble about this at times, it’s important that they realize the importance of family, especially at a time when their friends are so important to them. No need for a lecture, just remind them that their family matters and that they matter to their family. 

Strategy 3: Technology

Technology is ubiquitous with young adults. Use this to your advantage to connect with them via text messages or social media (if they use that). Occasionally send funny memes or articles about current events that they’d find interesting.

two people playing Sony PS4 game console


Play family-friendly video games together. Share Spotify playlists. Laugh over funny YouTube videos or let your teen school show you their favorite influencers. 

Strategy 4: Family Meals

Everyone has to eat and research has shown that sitting down together as a family has loads of positive benefits. Dinner conversations may be the last thing you have energy for at the end of the day but even spending a little time chatting about the day provides a routine for your teens and is a good way to build in little some family time.

stainless steel plates

Even if your dinner is cereal and fruit, regular meals together provides a pocket of quality time that young people can depend on. You can add some variety by incorporating family questions or making this part of you miracle hour. 

Strategy 5: Kids’ Friends

One of the best ways to stay connected to your teen and get a sense of what is going on in their life is to spend time with their friends. Whether you load them up in the car and take them to hiking or to a movie or just allow them to come over and hang out, you will learn new things about the context of your teen’s life.

four girl smiling outdoor

Spending time with your teen’s friends may also help you get a better sense of what qualities your child likes in their friends and a better sense of the guidance they need. 

Strategy 6: Traditions

It’s easy to start family traditions but it can be more difficult to continue them as your kids have more things going on their lives. Family traditions can be a fun way to make memories and enjoy each others company but they aren’t so great if no one looks forward to them or they are more work than they are worth. As my kids get older, it becomes easier to identify where their genuine interest lies and what activities are worth the effort.

camp, forest, summer


Traditions don’t have to last forever; or they can shift with time. (For us it was weekly family movie night when our the age ranges and interests of our kids become too dissimilar. We still have them but only every now and again.) It’s easy to combine traditions with holiday celebrations but you can also add a few other family traditions that are enjoyable. The ultimate goal is to foster traditions that allow the family to interact in a positive way and that help nurture a healthy relationship.  

Strategy 7: Unique Adventures

One fun thing about being parents of teens is that there are so many new interests to explore together. Teens are capable of doing a lot; this is a great time to simply have fun trying out new adventures. Keep an open mind and plan something different for you and your teen to give a go.

man wall climbing on red wall


The only way to really know what you like is to try things and the extra time you and your child spend together will probably result interesting and funny stories. Additionally, new adventures is one of the easiest excuses for one-on-one time. Plus, keep the phones at a minimum and these outings double as a way to keep screen time to a minimum…at least for a few hours. 

Strategy 8: Active Listening

And now for my personal favorite. I consider this the best way to connect with and help your teen feel heard. I consider this “technique” one of the absolute, complete best ways to keep the lines of communication open and one of the most important things to do if you want a good relationship.

three woman sitting at each other near flowers

Here’s how it’s done: when your teen talks to you, validate what they are saying. Be a good listener without giving advice, arguing, chastising, or trying to downplay the situation.



Here’s what it looks like:

Teenage daughter: “I hate my English teacher. She is so unfair. She gave me a 70 on my test even though she didn’t teach it well.”

What you are thinking: Is this the test you didn’t study for at all? The one that you refused to go to the extra test prep class for? Is this unfair teacher the one who has given you fair grades all year?

What you say: It’s so frustrating when you feel like someone doesn’t grade you fairly and I understand why you feel so rotten about the low grade.

Later, you might address some of your other concerns. But, in the moment, validate their words and feelings.

And remember that your teenager doesn’t want (or need) advice on every action they do or do not take. They will not always make the best call. But then again, neither do adults. Giving advice on everything they do will cause communication barriers.

Instead, the most important thing is to convey that you are always available to answer questions, help them think through a decision, or to just listen. Notice when they make a solid or good decision and feel free to comment on it but, most importantly, let them know that you are there as a resource. 

Keep It Simple

selective focus of man smiling near building

It’s tough raising responsible adults and our teenagers are working to figure things out. As the parents who love them, keeping that bond strong and healthy is one of our biggest priorities during this time. There are still many special times to be had, especially if you are open to change. Making shifts in the ways you communication and spend time with your teenagers is necessary just like it was when they were younger and required different things at different stages.

One of the best things to remember is that they still need and want your attention and guidance, however, they also need lots of space to mull things over and grow their own wings. Even adding one of these simple things will improve your connection and make complicated parenting of teenagers just a little less tough. 

Grab It!

I’m great at learning something new or reading about something I want to try and then forgetting about it when life gets hectic.

Print out these 8 Ways to Connect with Your Teen and put them somewhere you can refer back to it so that it stays at the front of your to-do list. I’ve included 2 pages of unique traditions that appeal to teens and that are super, super simple.


Subscribe to our Emails

Join our mailing list for insider information on product launches and more.

Explore Related Posts

Verified by MonsterInsights