10 Simple Actions to Connect with Teens

Snow has hit northern Minnesota and along with the snow comes a favorite past time for many people in our area: snowmobiling. Living in the home town of one of the largest manufacturers of snowmobiles and ATV’s lends itself to hearing the sounds of the high-pitched engine throughout the landscape.

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Several of our teens are crazy about snowmobiling. Luckily, my husband enjoys the sport, and our middle two teens have an advocate reasons why we need to own yet another snowmobile. Last Saturday, my son invited 12 of his friends over to snowmobile and ride the trails in the ditches that surround our home. I left the organizing of the teens to my husband, and through the event here is what he learned about boys and snowmobiles.

 

1. Not everyone has the same level of experience, so setting expectations right at the beginning is a must.
2. Common sense is not high on the list with 14-15 year old boys. The prefrontal cortex, the front part of the brain that is used for logical thinking, is still developing.
3. Boys + Fast Machines = Potential mishaps.

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I enjoy the day when my kids have their friends over and I can get to know the young people they hang out with a little bit better. My middle son especially enjoys inviting his friends over and loves to arrange events like the one on Saturday. The benefits are great for him because it keeps him busy, gives him a positive way to interact with his friends, and provides us with a chance to get to know his friends.

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The Search Institute encourages parents to realize the importance of children having other adults in their lives that they feel personally connected to through school, church or work. The 40 Developmental Assets is a framework that can be used to identify the 40 essential building blocks that children and teenagers need as a foundation for growing up. One of the influential assets is to have caring adults in the lives of young people.

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There are simple things that you can do to build those positive relationships with your child’s friends, and most of the actions don’t take much time. Here are 10 suggestions.

1. Ask young people what they like to do.
2. Have food available for your teen’s friends when they are over at your house.
3. Let teens know when they are making good choices.
4. Don’t always bail teens out of trouble. Help them learn from their experiences.
5. Ask open-ended questions and then listen.
6. Say one encouraging thing to each of your teen’s friends.
7. Listen to the conversation between the kids.
8. Ask where they are going, and trust them to make good choices.
9. Teach him/her how to be a good host to friends.
10. Be patient.

These are just a few actions of the many suggested by the Search Institute and the Parent Further website.

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This Saturday’s event included minor mishaps and poor choices, yet we needed to trust our son and his friends to use their best judgement. All turned out as it should and the boys had a great time together. Plus the fun outdoors was an opportunity for us to influence teens in a positive way. It was a win-win for all!

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