Creating a positive relationship with your teen

Joanne Te Paiho, March 2012

Tena koutou, Rangatahi

Teens ... how might you develop that all important positive relationship with your young person? What sort of relationship do you think they want from you? These are really important questions to ask yourself if you feel that you are floundering in connecting from a positive place. Reflect back to yesterday and the day before that, what conversations did you have with your teen, was the interaction positive, what do you know about how their week has been? If you are sitting back, blank, thinking 'gee, the only conversations we have had, have all been negative' and you wouldn't have a clue what sort of week they have had, then read on.

It takes some time to build and form good quality relationships that are lasting. Creating a positive relationship with your teen has a lot to do with the environment that they are living in. If the environment is caring, predictable, safe and secure, this will allow for a great platform from which to build something that is solid between you both. So what might a positive relationship between you both look like. It may be about you spending time and giving your attention to your teen. What do you both enjoy, that you could do together? It may also be about you talking and listening to your teen. Sharing about your day and being interested in what's happened in their day is a great place to start. Time spent with your teen doesn't have to be long and lengthy, what is important is brief but frequent time spent with each other, and being available to your young person when they need to talk is key. Being affectionate is another part of building a positive relationship. This might just be as small as patting their shoulder or giving them a hug and don't forget the all-important L word, 'I love you'. Nobody ever gets too old to hear that. Do be prepared though, for your young person to maybe be a bit uncomfortable at first. Allow them time to get use to this new change in your relationship.

Remember that we can't change others but we can make changes within ourselves that will have a positive influence on those around us. As parents we may go around with this belief that our children are just blimmen naughty and we have no idea how that's ever going to be any different. You may be stuck with the belief that it's all about them and can't possibly have anything to do with you and your parenting or the environment in which they are living. I used to think like that, and carry that belief around, but after 24 years of being a mum and a parent, I have had to learn, that the way in which my children behave is some reflection of the way in which I am parenting, and the environment in which they are raised. Not to say that we rule out the fact that children are born with different temperaments, and that there are other outside influences that may impact on their behaviour. Different personalities and temperaments are a lot easier to parent than others, but it is up to us as the parent to find what works for the uniqueness of our young person. Another point I really want to get across is that although we may be mums and dads, we need to be parents first and foremost. I want to talk more in my next column about this word 'Parent', and what this actually entails. We talk about it a lot, but what might the job description of a parent look like?

Anyway, I will leave you all with that, and remember, you can contact us here at Parentline on 355 1655 or drop in and see us in the Community House on King Street.

If you are not a parent but would like some Counselling Support you can contact me in my Private Practice on 358 1708.

Nga Mihi