Building Bridges

Reconnecting with Your Teen

Introduction: Navigating the Teenage Terrain

Parenting a teen can sometimes feel like navigating a complex labyrinth. As your child grows, the once clear paths of communication may become tangled. Frequently, the entanglement involves the stress and anxiety over school as their issue grow and we begin to fear for their future. Instead of helping teens navigate this tumultuous time in their lives, we have a tendency to add to the stress and pressure. 

With this article I want to share some practical strategies I have learned and shared over the years that have proven beneficial for both my teens and for others. Here are some simple strategies for reconnecting with your teen, fostering understanding and strengthening your relationship.

Active Listening: The Key to Understanding

Active listening is not just about hearing words, but about truly understanding your teen’s perspective and feelings. To practice active listening, focus entirely on your teen when they are speaking. Avoid distractions, maintain eye contact, and nod to show you’re engaged. Refrain from interrupting or preparing your response while they’re still talking. Instead, listen with the intent to understand, not to reply. After they’ve finished speaking, paraphrase what they’ve said to ensure you’ve understood correctly. This validates their feelings and shows that you truly value what they have to say.

Drama-Free Zone: Responding with Calmness

When faced with teenage drama, it’s crucial to maintain your composure and respond with calmness. If a conversation becomes too heated, it’s okay to pause and suggest continuing the discussion later when everyone is calmer. This break allows both you and your teen to cool down and collect your thoughts. Implement a ‘cool-off’ rule where either party can request a break if the conversation becomes too intense. This practice helps in preventing regrettable words and keeps the lines of communication open and respectful.

It’s Not About You: Navigating Teenage Outbursts

Teenage outbursts are often less about you and more about the emotional turmoil your child is experiencing. During these moments, it’s important to remember that you’re the adult in the situation. Stay calm and don’t take their words personally. Acknowledge their feelings and give them space to express themselves. Approach the situation with empathy, understanding that adolescence is a time of intense emotional development. Your patience and composure can set a positive example and help de-escalate the situation.

Cultivating Positivity: Encouragement as a Tool

Using positive reinforcement can significantly impact your teen’s self-esteem and your relationship with them. Focus on what your teen is doing right and acknowledge their efforts and achievements, no matter how small. Use encouraging words and show appreciation for their unique qualities. Create an environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn, rather than failures. Positivity can be a powerful tool in motivating your teen and strengthening your bond with them.

It takes time and consistency to rebuild that connection and trust. Once you have started to reconnect and they trust you enough to open up about things, start having a frank conversation about school. Listen to them. Find out what the root of the issue is, whether they aren’t doing their homework, have a ton of anxiety, are acting out in class, can’t get out of bed, etc. Chances are it comes down to one thing. Maybe that’s a problem you can help them learn to solve either at school or by finding an alternative. If you want to talk about alternatives, schedule a call with us. We are here to help you find the best solution, even if another option is a better fit than our program. It’s not about us. It’s about them. We practice what we preach.

Do you have any questions or concerns about this educational journey? I’m always here to help. Let’s reconnect with our children by embracing self-directed learning!


Join the discussion about this and other high school education topics in our Facebook Group "Alternatives to High School". The goal of the group is to give parents a place to discuss options to public/private school and standardized curriculum as well as share resources for educating teens.

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