It can be hard to balance providing support to our teens and older youth but also giving them the space they need to express themselves and develop independence. Finding opportunities for connection can help bridge the gap!

When you don’t understand a behavior or action, try asking…

  • Can you explain what happened from your perspective?
  • I’m curious about how you were feeling before, during and after. Can you tell me how you were feeling?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • Who has been affected by the choices you made?
  • How do you think we should take accountability?
  • How will you respond in the future?

Tough Moment?

  • Pause for a moment, breathe in and out slowly.
  • Try asking: “Can you tell me what you’re feeling” or “Can you tell me why you did/said that?”
  • If this doesn’t work, and you are upset by an action, behavior or comment, it’s okay to say: “I’m really upset by this. We need to come back to this later on.”

Spend Time Together

  • Spend time doing the things your teen loves, whether cooking, exercising, playing a video game, or something else entirely!
  • Ask about what is going on in their lives or at school. This can be a great opportunity to help them problem-solve, navigate social interactions, or manage their stress.
  • Genuinely thank them for helping out with a chore, trying their best on an assignment, or for being considerate, understanding or caring to show that you recognize their hard work and do not take them for granted.

Remember: Consistency is Key

  • Establish routines and consistency in schedules to help with stress and transitions.
  • Empower your youth by setting goals and responsibilities together. You can also discuss natural rewards and the value of personal growth and responsibility.
  • Give them time and space for independent development and responsibilities—like an extracurricular activity or part-time, weekend job.
  • Set clear guidelines, rules, curfews and consequences if broken.
  • Make sure the consequences are reasonable, related and something you can stick to. Remember: natural consequences can be our best teachers.