How to build a healthy and long lasting relationship with your teenager

Many times I get the question how do I build a relationship with my teenager? The answer is not an easy one as it starts the day your baby is born. The day your baby lies in your arms for the first time you need to start building on that relationship for the day he/she becomes a teenager.

First, set boundaries.

You have to set the boundaries as a parent from day one. With this I do not mean you need to become this ‘Hitler’ type of parent. No, I mean your child should know from day-one “if my parents say it is no it is no” and also” if my parent says it is yes it is yes and they will not go back on their word”.Ai??You, as the parent need to be consistent.

Its OK to make a mistake and apologise

You need to teach your child by way of actions that if someone makes any mistake it is okay to admit and apologise. Yes, sometimes we need to admit to our children we have made a mistake and that we are sorry about it. Where else will they learn how and when to apologise? They need to learn by following our example.

Spend one-on-one time with your child.

This may be the most difficult one to do as life happens and before we know it weeks went past without spending some time with your child. The amount of time you spend on a child will differ from child to child and will vary according to their age. This time must be solely that child’s. So if you spend 15 minutes every night before bedtime with your 1 year old there must be no intrusions no TV, no phone calls, no visitors etc. This is one-on-one time with that child. This can be spent by reading to the child or playing with the child. It is important for both parents to do as individuals. Mom and Dad should spend separate time with each child. If you have very hectic lives this could be on alternate days, for instance Mom on Monday, Wednesday and Friday night. Dad on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. Saturday nights could be family night? As your child grows older this will become the time “secrets” are revealed and will become invaluable. This is also the time for memories to be built as there are no certainties in life.

Make a “date” to spend quality time with your older child or teenager.

Eventually as your child becomes older start with a “dating” time. You and your child(ren) must have regular dates. Ai??This must also be one on one. Typically, little girls love to be taken for a tea date with either mom or dad. Little boys love to spend some “men time” with their fathers. This should be at least once a month. Again, as they grow older this will be the time they will reveal their “secrets”. By this time a trusting relationship has been built and you should be seeing the results in having an open relationship with your teenager. By now most kids will have learned to approach you and ask for a “date” when something goes wrong in their life.

Starting with an older child or teenager?

To build operand honest relationships with older kids is much harder as there will be trust issues and they do not know how long this will last. You have to start with the ai???dating timeai??? and persevere. Eventually you will see results.

Raising kids is never easy but is such a rewarding job! Enjoy your kids every minute of the day.

If you feel you cannot cope with your child or teenager and need help please contact Ukukhanya and ask about our counselling services.

Hilda Lourens