Your teen will never tell you this.
But there is a list of needs all teens have and won’t admit—and may not even know themselves. Maybe you’re like most parents of teens. You’ve sat up late trying to crack the code, longing to learn the secret to connecting with the one who used to willingly crawl into your lap with a board book, just wanting to get closer.
Now, the days of cuddling up with books and songs and kisses goodnight have turned into eye-rolling, closed doors, and sometimes angry conversations.
Here’s the deal.
As much as we parents would like to point a finger anywhere else, the burden of building solid relationships with our teens lies squarely on the shoulders of us parents. But it’s okay! We’re here to offer you support, encouragement, and hope. To get you started building that strong relationship with your teen, we’re sharing from personal and professional experience ‘How to Give Your Teen the 13 Things They Need Most’.
1. Provide Security at Home
Life for a teen feels like a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. It seems anything but steady and sure. That’s why security at home is of the utmost importance. Nothing else in the world tops this need in a teen’s life. Nothing.
What can threaten security at home?
- Parents fighting
- Siblings fighting
- A loud, chaotic atmosphere
- Hectic schedules
- No family time
What does provide security at home?
- Calm, quiet discussions (no yelling)
- A consistent schedule
- Regular family meals at the dinner table
- Limited media (think TV not on all the time)
- Family outings/vacations
- Parents who love each other
- Attending church
If family habits have you checking more off the list that threatens a feeling of security at home, it’s time to make a change! You’ll be amazed at the shift you see in your teen.
2. Offer a Listening Ear
We get it. Teens aren’t always very approachable. But they need your listening ear! Talk to your teen (see our 10 Ways to Get Your Teen Talking HERE and check out our NEW Teen Talk Conversation Cards!). And take time to be available to your teen to be a listening ear. Above all, teens need to be heard and validated.
3. Give Encouragement
We could all use more encouragement in this world, couldn’t we? Well, teens need it about ten times more. We strongly recommend avoiding criticism as much as possible. That doesn’t mean you avoid discipline; instead, you look for more opportunities to encourage and compliment your teen than criticize. Try these 10 Things You Should Say to Your Teen to get started!
4. Allow Them the Freedom to Try
Do you insist on doing everything yourself for fear that it won’t be done right? This could be more damaging to your teen than you think. Teens are exploring and learning who they are and how they will succeed.
Why not let your teen cook dinner, change the oil, or help paint the living room? Surprise them by asking them to do something big that shows your faith in their abilities.
When you give them the freedom to try, you are building them up and giving them the kind of things teens need more of.
5. Give Respect
We spend a lot of time—as we should—teaching teens to show respect to authority. It’s a critical part of their success in life.
But what about showing your teen respect? How you treat your teen sends a massive message about what you think of them and can make or break your relationship with them.
What does respecting a teen look like?
- Don’t talk down to them. Instead, speak to them with respect.
- Treat them like intelligent, capable individuals.
- Let them take on seemingly significant responsibilities.
- Assume the best in their character.
6. Promote a Sense of Belonging
Teens desperately need a sense of belonging. A lack of belonging commonly drives teens to join gangs or engage in other unhealthy behaviors.
You can create a sense of belonging for your teen by doing the following:
- Eat dinner together as a family at least three times per week.
- Guard your marriage with everything in you. Divorce is devastating to teens. Keep your family together—it will be the best decision you ever make.
- Take family vacations.
- Go on family outings to lunch, bowling, movies, etc.
7. Offer Hugs
Yes, approaching a teen can sometimes feel like moving in on a grizzly bear, but your teen needs hugs—every day. The reception may be icy, and you may not get a hug back, but do it anyway. Your love is something your teen needs more of.
8. Provide Opportunities to Find Out Who They Are
Teens are desperately trying to discover who they are, but they aren’t sure how to find out. You can help them by providing opportunities to find out who they are. This includes a solid peer group and new experiences. Some ideas include:
- Youth groups
- Martial arts
- Community service clubs
- Drama classes or music lessons
- Cooking classes
- One-time outings to do new things like rock climbing, archery, cookie decorating, golf, or any other new activity.
9. Give the Gift of Laughter
Everyone could use a bit more laughter! Laughing is good for the mind, body, and spirit. It improves health and overall mental demeanor. And it’s fun!
But how to get a teen laughing….
A funny movie, a family board game that gets the giggles going, hanging out with a funny uncle, a Christian comedy show, or anything else that gives teens what they need more of—laughter!
10. Spend Quality Time with Your Teen
The eternally closed bedroom door doesn’t say it, but teens need more time with their parents! Sure, they’ll never admit it, but your teen needs you. And not always in a group setting. One-on-one time with each parent is critical.
- Lunch at their favorite restaurant
- Coffee at a local coffee shop
- Shopping for a new hoodie (guys) or cute new top (girls)
- Mini golf
- Top Golf
- Axe throwing (yes, it’s a thing!)
- Any other activity you think your teen would enjoy
The key is to do something your teen would enjoy. Step into their world for a while—meaning it will probably be something that isn’t at the top of your list. It’s essential to show how much you want to be part of what interests your teen.
11. Share Your Belief in Their Goodness
Teens question their value all day long. To top it off, their peers do, as well. There is a major shortage of affirmation in the lives of teens. That’s why your belief in their goodness is so crucial. Look for ways to tell and show them you think highly of them. It will bridge the gap and strengthen your relationship in ways nothing else will.
12. Pray for Them
Your teen may not know how much they need your prayers, but they do. They need a lot of prayers. Daily. Never give up on your teen. Keep praying and keep believing. Pray over every area of your teen’s life. God’s Word does not return void.
Forgiveness is a powerful thing. If your teen makes mistakes—and they will make mistakes—forgiveness gives them the surety that they are still loved, valuable, and wanted. When your teen messes up, be sure to let them know that you forgive and love them. Not only are you building their self-worth, but you are also modeling how they should respond to those who hurt them.
These 13 Things Teens Need Most will change your relationship with your teen and give them the strength, encouragement, and confidence they need to conquer life. Get into the habit of pouring into your teen even when you get nothing in return. Trust us when we say ‘Your reward will come’.