Shaping Positive Interactions with Teens
Nurturing strong and important relationships is imperative to wellbeing, but during adolescence there is often more arguments as teens begin to forge their own identities and peer relationships become increasingly important. At this time strong parent‐child relationships do not cease to be relevant, on the contrary, studies have shown positive family relationships are essential for adolescent health, mental health and behaviour with the varied impact including:
- increasing subjective wellbeing and life satisfaction
- links to cardiovascular and immune functioning
- positive health behaviours such as diet, sleep routines and exercise habits
- decreases in anxiety and depression.
An essential aspect of maintaining positive family relationships is using your emotional intelligence*. This is your ability to:
- identify and understand your own emotions
— understand your teen’s emotions and respond with empathy
— use your emotional awareness to guide you when solving problems
— deal with frustration and be able to wait to get what you want
— keep distress from overwhelming your ability to think
— be in control of how and when you express your feelings.
The Australian Psychological Society recommend the following tips to value and nurture your relationship with your teen:
- Plan regular time together doing something you both enjoy.
- Give your teen the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming the worst. Be curious and seek to understand why your teen is acting the way he/she is.
- Make sure the positive experiences in your relationship outweigh the negative experiences by five to one, and make sure you show your appreciation for teen’s caring actions.
- When there is conflict make sure you calm yourselves by taking time out when emotions are high, and coming back to the discussion later.
- When mistakes are made, make sure you both work to repair the damage.
- Be there to support your teen in times of difficulty, and encourage him at school, in friendships and with leisure activities.
- Be prepared to be influenced by what is important to your teen.
- Have a ‘team mentality’. When there are difficulties, talk about what ‘we’ need to do about it.
- Have high standards for your relationship, and stick to them yourself.
Helpful Positive Relationships Resources
John Gottman and Joan DeClaire 2002. The Relationship Cure: A five step guide to strengthening your marriage, family and friendships.
Daniel Goleman 1995. Emotional Intelligence.
Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. The whole brain child. 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind.
*taken from tuning into teens emotionally intelligent parenting.