Tammy Jacobs shares some ways for parents to encourage their teenagers to connect on an emotional level.
Tammy Jacobs, L.C.S.W.:
It seems like now-a-days almost every home has a teenager in it; some of them are emotionally disconnected from the rest of the family or a particular parent. Let’s talk about, “How can I tap into my teenager so that we can have that emotional connection?”
As a teenager there is a whirlwind of things going on in their lives and in their mind. They have school; they have friends; they have girlfriends or boyfriends. They have got, “When am I going to be able to drive? I have this test,” it’s a very stressful time in their mind and sometimes this might be part of the cause for emotional disconnect.
However, no matter how busy they feel they are, how stressed they are or how separate they want to be from the rest of the family, it’s still very important for you to make that time, have that time that you spend with them, almost instead of a time out, a time in; spending the time with that child.
And it’s okay if it’s five minutes, ten minutes. If you really want to try to force them that they go spend a whole hour with you, if they are not ready for that go for the five minutes. Just taking interest in what they are interested in at this time in their life and at their age. If that means you have no interest of playing that videogame ‘Guitar Hero’ with them, spend five minutes, ask them about it, maybe even watch them play, or maybe give it a little try yourself.
Ask them what’s on their mind. If they don’t want to be connected and they don’t want to share, that’s okay, but the fact that you just keep repeatedly going to them, showing that you have interest in what they are thinking about, what they are worried about, things that they like, things that they are interested in – just really acknowledging them for where they are at in this process of life and how they are handling the things that they are dealing with.
About Tammy Jacobs, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.:
Tammy Jacobs is a licensed clinical social worker and child and family therapist in Mesa, Arizona. She specializes in parenting, specifically working with difficult children and teens. Tammy's number one approach is The Nutured Heart Approach developed by Howard Glasser.