• Connecting With Your Teenager | Courtney Conley | Episode 185

  • connecting with your teenagerThe teen years can be challenging for both teens and parents. Letting our kids make more choices, do more on their own, and follow the beat of their internal drummer can be scary. And feeling them pull away to spend more time with their friends can be painful. But our teens do still need us. They need to feel loved and supported to help them through the ups and downs of these years. And connecting with your teenager is key. Courtney Conley joins Mighty Parenting Podcast host Sandy Fowler to share insights, tips, and strategies for connecting with your teenager.

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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    There are things parents do that tend to shut teens down rather than foster connection and build rapport.

    High Points From Our Conversation on Connecting With Your Teenager:

    Quote about connecting with your teenagerConnections between teens and parents are instrumental to teens in all areas of their lives.

    We don’t always know our kids as well as we think we do.

    Common refrains from teens usually include “You don’t understand” and “You don’t get it” and that’s true more often than we’d like it to be, even if our first reaction is to think they’re being dramatic.

    We mean well, but sometimes well-meaning actions can actually shut down our connection with our kids faster than yelling at them would.

    You can foster connecting with your teenager through validation; however, validation is often confused with reinforcement. Validation is saying, I understand the way you’ve been feeling. It is not approving the behavior.

    Stand back and validate their feelings; de-escalate the situation and increase the connection.

    Strengthening the connection:

      1. Validate your teen’s feelings
      2. Listen to understand rather than respond – you want to explain your position in a ‘you with them’ mindset, rather than a ‘you vs. them’ mindset

    Teens want their parents to understand how they feel.

    In connecting with your teenager, be authentic with them. I want to get to know you better. I’m going to do a better job of listening.

    There’s a good opportunity in the moment when they’re upset with you. Validate their feelings. Give them room to express themselves without jumping in and arguing your side: 

      • This trains our parenting brain to not just jump in and take over
      • We’re trying not to push them through the moment to get a positive outcome

    We communicate through emotions. If the person on the other side isn’t listening, it escalates things. When arguments with our teens escalate like this often, a number of things can happen:

      • Our kids shut down and come to us less
      • They go to other places to get the validation they’re looking for (whether or not it’s genuine)
      • Arguments increasingly get intense and go nowhere

    Connecting with your teenager means emotional validation. Acknowledge how they’re feeling and that they have a right to those feelings.

    Technology is a huge part of our kids’ lives. Being connected all the time is their world and it’s important to them. This immersion impacts them and their behaviors in good and bad ways.

    Parents need to position themselves in a place of calm and acceptance so we can validate our teens.

    Our true power is in our response. The calmer we are, the more emotional resources we have. When we’re emotionally depleted, we lack patience and tend to snap back or react sharply.

    One more time: the key in connecting with your teenager is in acceptance and validation of their feelings. From there, you both can work on calm and productive communication, instead of just arguing.


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    Our Guest Courtney Conley:

    Courtney Conley discusses connecting with your teenagerDr. Courtney Conley is an author, educator, and licensed counselor who specializes in working with adolescents and their families. Her work combines the power of connection with spiritual concepts to help today’s youth expand their thinking, raise their awareness, and challenge their negative beliefs. Courtney partners with parents to support struggling youth. She believes the way out of depression starts with connection and that parents can play a powerful role in their child’s healing. Courtney’s book, Your Daughter Doesn’t Have to Be Miserable: An Approach to Supporting Your Teenage Daughter Through Depression, teaches parents wellness strategies and skills for supporting struggling teens. Whether she is working directly with teens or with their parents, the well-being of adolescents is at the heart of her work. She currently resides in a suburb of Washington D.C. where she continues to serve teens and their families.

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit www.courtney-conley.com 

    Our Sponsors:

    Inward Bound Mindfulness Education — Mindfulness courses and retreats for teens and adults iBme offers online and in-person retreats, mindfulness courses, and weekly meditations tailored for various communities of teens and young adults. Visit iBme.com to learn more and register for programs, including in-person and online summer retreats.

    Omio, a travel booking company that covers planes, trains, and buses. Use the code LISTENER5 to get 5% off through July 31st. Click here to book: Omio