Source:  Well & Ready

By: Sarah Porter-Braun

Date: June 19. 2020

I've been collecting activities or simple things we can do with our tween and teen kids that help us have an enjoyable, shared experience and make a deposit to the 'connection bank'.  A strong connection with your child doesn't happen in one day or one week.  It is something that is built and nurtured over time.  Here are ten simple things you can do to create and build connection with your kids too.

1 Follow their lead.  Search out opportunities to pursue new interests with your kids. For example, if your son wants to learn tennis, take it up with him.  It will turn into something you can do together.

2 Cook together. Got a hungry teen rumbling around the kitchen (and what teen isn't chronically hungry)? Suggest the two of you throw together a plate of nachos or a pizza, or a salad. 

3 Work together. Sometimes it’s easier to have a conversation with a teenager if you’re not sitting and forced to make eye contact.  When you're planting flowers, washing the car, raking leaves, shoveling snow, doing dishes together, your hands are busy, but your brain is available for connecting.

4 Share a family interest. The trick to keeping teens interested is to let them lead.  Get interested in your kids' interests!  It's amazing what you will learn! And, sometimes, when that's not possible, just the car ride to and from your child's interest or activity is enough time for a connection moment.

5 Tell their stories. When you share your memories of the funny, sweet and infuriating things your kids did when they were young, teens gain a sense of being connected to your unique family history — of knowing they belong and that they matter to you.

6 Eat together.  Make suppertime fun — even boisterous! Conversations can cover the gamut from the latest events at school and the antics of friends and neighbors, to politics and world events.  The most important thing is to ask your kids their thoughts and opinions, then listen and ask more questions.  Laugh. Tell jokes.

7 Create rituals and traditions.  Little rituals, whether it’s painting nails, trimming hair, Sunday cooking, are important to kids because they provide “no-pressure” time to connect with a parent. 

8 Do some good together.  There are lots of ways to help out that might inspire a teen. Whether it’s shoveling an elderly neighbor’s driveway, or doing a marathon for cancer research — let your child pick one and then do it together.

9 Share a skill.  Try to identify something you're both interested in and reasonably good at (better yet, something you're child is better than you!).  Cooking? Knitting? Rollerblading? Playing tennis? Ping Pong? Soccer? Drawing? Minecraft building? Playing music? Just find something mutual.

10 Say good night. Knocking is required before I enter my 13-year-old’s room, but she still likes it when I tuck her in and kiss her good night. If I linger a bit, that’s often when I hear about the plans she’s making with her friends on Friday night, or a test she’s worried about.

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