How To Bond With Your Teenager Over Summer Break
Summer is upon us, allowing much-needed time with our kids and teens that we should not take for granted. I think we can all agree these past few years have been anything but "easy," and we, as well as our kids and teens, have felt the effects. So, this summer break can be a great time to show your teen that you love them, enjoy spending time with them, and maybe even surprise them (or "remind" them) that you have a fun side too!
Below, I have provided some recommendations for making the most of this summer with your teen. And as a result, turn this summer into one that will make memories to last a lifetime and can help forge a closer parent/teen relationship that will carry through the upcoming school year and beyond!
PLAN TIME TOGETHER
Nothing speaks more to a teen (or any person for that matter) than devising time in your already crazy schedule to spend time with them. Giving your teen your time lets them know how much you care about them. Although the summer can get busy with routine, day-to-day activities, it's time to pull on the brake, take out the calendar and start planning some one-on-one time with your teen, along with some much-needed family outings too!
This can be as simple as planning a family beach day, a backyard campout, and cooking a meal together (allowing your teen to choose what to make). Keeping it simple and planning ahead can give both you and your teen something to look forward to, which can provide bonding time in itself. Remember, it doesn't need to be expensive or some hugely planned outing. It can be as simple as an early morning walk or taking a bike ride just before sunset – or having a picnic at the park. Sometimes the simple things in life are the most meaningful and can allow more heartfelt connections with your teen.
USE THE THREE E'S
While "hanging out" with your teen, you may find that they will start to get more comfortable about opening up and sharing their thoughts with you. This is also an excellent opportunity to check in on how they’re doing and to find out how they feel about the upcoming school year. Using the Three E’s (Empathy, Empowerment, and Engagement), can help your teen feel safe and supported to express any emotions they may be feeling.
• Show Empathy by validating your teen's feelings. You can do this by asking open-ended questions and taking the time to listen without jumping in with assumptions and your own conclusions.
• Empower your teen to move forward in healthy ways by guiding them to think of things they can do to feel better about a situation and reach their goals. For example, if your teen has anxieties over the upcoming school year, it can be helpful to role-play different scenarios with your teen so that they can practice responding in positive ways.
• And provide Engagement by regularly checking in with your teen to see how they're doing and remind them that you're there to support them.
Consistency is important when using empathy, empowerment and engagement. When school is in session, schedules often become busier and more hurried. So, by starting a Three E’s routine in the summer, it can help make it easier to stay connected with your teen when schedules may become more chaotic.
Also, if it has been a while since you and your teen have comfortably connected, it may take some time before you start seeing the results of using the Three E’s. But don’t give up. Often, positive impacts are being made, even if they’re not immediately noticed.
START A NEW HEALTHY ROUTINE
Summer can also be a great time to think of things that you and your teen can do to help create healthier or safer lifestyle. For example, exercise has enormous benefits in supporting your physical and mental health! Not only does it help with an immense amount of physical health benefits, but mentally, exercise could become your newfound best friend when combating anxiety and depression! And, if you can do these things together, even better!
By setting healthy goals, you and your teen can encourage each other and hold one another accountable. You may find that you even start to exchange more commentary and share mutual gratitude for each other's determination and support.