A Colorado parent and teen talk to an expert about how to keep strengthening the bonds you’ve built this past year.

The pandemic forced all of us to press pause on the hustle and bustle of our lives. Teens and parents were at home together far more — working, attending school, and spending downtime in the same space. For many, this provided a chance to feel more connected. 

But as we navigate new changes, what can parents do to make sure those bonds aren’t lost? 

Dr. Sherry Ziegler, a family therapist, and mental health expert, offered some insights during a recent Forward Together Facebook Live event featuring 9News’ Chris Vanderveen, and Colorado parent Dave Romero and his daughter Maddy. 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO STAY CONNECTED WITH TEENS

Life transitions caused by the pandemic created shifts both for individuals and their relationships. Parents and teens are still feeling the effects of those shifts in a season that Dr. Ziegler identified as “post-traumatic growth.” 

“No matter what people experience individually, as a community, we’ve all gone through a traumatic experience. The notion of post-traumatic growth asks not just, ‘Where are you going to bounce back to?’ but also, ‘Where are you going to grow?’” 

Dr. Ziegler recommends maintaining the activities or routines that strengthened your relationship with your teen —  even as schedules fill back up. “If you talked more, played games, or sat down to dinner together, try to keep an element of that in the relationship,” she shared. 

HOW CAN WE MAINTAIN OR DEEPEN CONNECTION?

To help maintain — and strengthen — connection when you and your teen may be spending less time together at home, try these tips.

Look for any opportunity to have conversations with your teen.

“This can be while you’re driving in the car. Maybe, don’t look at your phone at every stoplight. Or turn the radio off, and just actually talk. Or turn the radio on and jam and sing together. But especially find those opportunities to ask your kid questions,” Dr. Ziegler says. 

Do your best to make your teen feel cared for and appreciated by you.

Learn how your teen best feels supported.

“Is that quality time? Compliments? Small gifts? Make sure to do that regularly,” she adds.

It can start small. Schedule a 30-minute walk, or give them a small gift after an accomplishment or hard day.

When in the same space, look for ways to better connect in the moment.

Don’t mistake close quarters with deep connection. Even if you’re physically together, try to also be present and ask intentional questions that let your teen know you care. Or, if they don’t love your questions, try to have fun or bond over a hobby they love.

“It can be just a matter of putting the phone down, giving each other eye contact, and talking to each other about one another’s days,” says Dr. Ziegler.  

For more, watch the entire Facebook Live event, “Now What? Staying Connected with Our Teens”. To stay updated on future Facebook Live events, be sure to like and follow our Facebook page.

Dr. Sheryl Ziegler

Dr. Sheryl Ziegler is the best-selling author of Mommy Burnout™, and the podcast host of Dr. Sheryl's PodCouch, a show all about how parents and adults can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, and prevent burnout through lives of balance and connectedness. She is also a regular national and local news contributor, a TedX speaker, and the owner of a private group counseling practice in Denver.

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