We can all get busy and caught up in daily life, but setting aside a little time to check in with your teen is important to let them know you care. It also just might help you learn more about them.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Work with the time you’ve got. 
Your kids might not remember what you said every time you made them dinner or took them to basketball practice — but they’ll remember that you did it. All those hours in the car or at home can be a good time to talk. Ask them to put on a song they like, and then ask them what’s going on in their life. Show interest in their interests — whether that’s soccer or video games or music — and ask them to show off their knowledge and skills. You might just find that talking with your teen during your family’s daily routine — about the things they care about — can build up your relationship.

Share the respect. 
When your teen tells you about something you may not agree with, try not to react immediately with what you think about it. Just like you need to vent to a partner or friend, teenagers sometimes just need someone to listen — without judgment. That doesn’t mean you give up on the rules or let everything go. If what they’re telling you is outside of your expectations, it’s okay to let them know that. However, try to listen first and show respect for different ideas. Ask them what they think about the situation and resist the urge to lead with your own feelings.

Offer support, without taking over.
When your child has a problem, you usually want to help fix it. It’s important to remember, though, that when a teen talks to you about their latest challenge, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want you to solve it for them. Listen to what they think about the situation and ask them what they think are some potential solutions. Then let them know that, if they need more help, you are there to advocate for them.

Don’t forget to talk about the “good stuff.”
Sometimes, we can get caught up in talking about our lives today. It’s also important to make time to talk to your teen about their plans and dreams for the future, if they’re willing to share. Where would they want to travel? Is there a job or career they’re interested in learning more about? Is there something new they want to try? Taking time out of your day to talk to your teen about their future helps you learn more about them today and who they might become tomorrow.

Take the pressure off. 
If they don’t feel like talking now, let them know you’ll be around again tomorrow — and the next day. Remember: They need their space, just like we do. Sometimes it’s as simple as sitting in the same room, watching a movie together. You never know what conversation might start up in those quiet moments.

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