Teenagers – How to Connect (or Reconnect) With the Teens in Your Life – Part 1

Are you afraid of the teenage years? Do you want to help your teenager survive and thrive?  Then you need to know how to stay connected to your teenager.

A hugely overlooked basic for connecting with your teens is learning how to collect them. This is a term that developmental psychologist, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, teaches. Have you ever wondered why we say, “Hi! How are you?” as a customary greeting? This is classic connecting in action. When we say that, we generally look the person in the eye, and an often barely perceivable nod takes place. That seemingly simple set of actions is the communication equivalent of first gear. Once we have the communication between us in first gear, our chances of  getting to second gear and communicating well, dramatically increases.

The next time you see your teen, focus first on connecting. Make sure you get eye contact, and ask how he or she is. I do this regularly with my kids’ friends, and other teens I meet. I often get a pleasantly surprised look when I do it for the first time. In our busy culture we have forgotten the importance of this basic greeting ritual, and when we use it, the kids around us feel the respect and acknowledgement of them as a person deserving of greeting. When you take the moment to connect, the teens in your life will notice, even if they don’t respond much at first.

Make a habit of connecting with everyone in your life before moving on to whatever business you have with them, and you’ll find your relations going better in general. As adults we are capable of starting in second gear, but most adults still prefer to start in first (caveat, you will occasionally find adults who are so task focused that they are annoyed by being asked how they are, especially over the phone in business situations. You will figure out when not to ask, and the occasional lapse is a small price to pay for the majority of pleasantly surprised people!). When you have to ask someone, adult or small, to do something for you, make sure you have your communication in first gear before expecting them to shift into second gear and do what you want done.

 Now that you know how to get your communication into first gear, I’ll tell you how to take it further in Part 2. 

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