It's not just grand gestures that make a big impact on your kids' lives.It's also the little things that add up.

Even if they don’t always act like it, teens want parents and caregivers to keep making the effort to connect.

Remember, they might be afraid to ask you for help — especially if they have a problem or have made a mistake and need support. Reaching out to let them know you are there and you care makes it more likely they will come to you in the future.

So here are some ideas of small things you can do to better connect with your young person:

  • Listen actively to their stories
  • Make eye contact with them
  • Praise their passion for a subject and ask them about it
  • Compliment them on something they did well
  • Give them a hug
  • Let them know when they’ve taught you something new
  • Ask about their current favorite song or their opinion on a movie
  • Keep TVs in common areas instead of bedrooms
  • Say “I love you” — often
  • Give an explanation for the rules or expectations you set
  • Have a family hobby
  • Assume your teen wants a connection with you — even on tough days
  • Remind them that feeling anger, frustration or fear is okay and normal and that you’re there for them
  • Text a joke to them
  • Help your teen name their feelings but don’t try to fix things for them

Here are a few more ideas we heard directly from Colorado parents when we asked them what small things they have learned to do to better connect with their teens:

  • “One of my favorite things we’ve done is implement ‘phone free Sundays.'”
  • “Let him have the chance to talk without knowing that I’m going to interject with what I think he should do or with what I think should have happened. And it makes him open up a lot more.”
  • “At a certain point you’ll get a bunch of one word answers. Then you’ll ask the right question, and you’ll get the answer that’s more than one word. Then I’ll just build off that. It gives me somewhere to go later on.”
  • “I make sure that he knows I’m here for him, so when he’s ready to talk, I’m not going to judge him. Even though in my mind, I’m scared to death and judging, but I don’t want him to think that.”
  • “There’s just a whole lot of pressures and different kind of societal things that are happening in schools, and I try to be cognizant of that and respect it.”

Remember: By taking small steps, you’re letting your teen know that you care and that they can depend on you. You can also find 20 questions to get the conversation rolling with your teen, here.

All of those small actions will add up to big value for them!

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