8 Mistakes That Prevent You From Connecting With Your Teenager

Believing that they can solve everything on their own is one of the most common mistakes that prevent you from connecting with your teenager.
8 Mistakes That Prevent You From Connecting With Your Teenager

Last update: 29 June, 2022

“Sometimes I feel like this isn’t the child I raised”. “I don’t understand him”. “We don’t understand each other. It’s like she’s from another planet”. These are some of the statements that parents of teenagers make, stating that they have a hard time getting along with their children, although they used to get along just fine.

In this regard, many times, we need to ask ourselves what role parents play in maintaining this distance or misunderstanding. In saying this, we’re not looking to place blame, but to build bridges to favor family communication and move the relationship forward.

Do you want to know what the most common mistakes we adults make are? Then keep reading.

You may be interested in: 4 Reasons That Lead to Teenage Rebellion

Learn about the mistakes that prevent you from connecting with your teenager

In moments of reflection and self-evaluation, parents are able to identify certain mistakes we often make that interfere with the bond with our teenagers. That’s the first step in changing behavior and improving the relationship we once knew we had with them. Let’s see what it’s all about.

1. Comparing them to you

This is one of the most frequent mistakes that put an emotional distance between teenagers and their parents.

Putting oneself in a place of superiority and resorting to worn-out phrases, such as “In my time…”, and “When I was your age…”, rather than promoting a desired behavior or appealing to reflection, is a moralistic judgment. And this blocks any kind of listening and sharing.

A teen boy ignoring his father and walking away from him.
Lectures and comparisons often block teens’ initiative to share their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Try to give them space and accompany them with respect for their individuality.

2. Minimizing their emotions

“It’s not a big deal” is a phrase we often use with the intention of soothing difficult emotions or helping our children cope with a situation. However, it can be invalidating and disqualifying.

During adolescence, many experiences are lived with urgency and intensity, as if life or death depended on it. Therefore, the best thing to do is to try to listen to what your children need and understand what they’re demanding. In case it’s not possible to satisfy their demands, we should still avoid making judgments and do our best to explain why.

Working emotional intelligence with young people provides them with the resources to learn how to face and solve adverse situations.

3. Not taking an interest in their affairs, hobbies, or interests.

It’s true that in adolescence, young people may require their space and autonomy. They’re learning to be themselves and to make their own decisions.

However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t expect us to take an interest in them. Not only do they, but they expect us to ask them how they’re doing, how things are going, and what their plans are. Of course, you have to respect the extent to which they want to share.

4. Making public issues that are private

For example, if your child confides something in you, it’s not respectful to bring it up at Sunday lunch in front of the family. Not even if you think it’s funny or that “it’s over”. These attitudes destroy trust.

5. Not sharing time with them

It’s not about being available 24/7. Rather, it’s about creating some kind of space to be able to talk and share moments with your child. Along those same lines, taking for granted that they’ll learn certain things alone, that there are issues that “they’ll learn from their friends” is a big mistake.

We have to be proactive when addressing certain issues, such as sexuality, interpersonal relationships, and limits. We must be the first filter of information.

6. Trying to be in control of everything

Adolescence is about the search for freedom and autonomy. It’s that moment in which they’re allowed to do more things on their own than when they were children. However, adults don’t always facilitate free exploration, because we control too much, demand explanations, and end up overwhelming them.

A mother smiling with her arms around her teenage sun.
It’s important to be able to establish certain agreements regarding schedules and outings, but it’s also necessary to give them space.

7. Avoiding or exaggerating displays of affection

In other words, going from everything to nothing. Bursting into their room to shower your teenager with kisses when they’re with their friends is as ill-advised as establishing a cold distance.

Both displays of affection and praise and recognition for things they do well are necessary. Adolescence can be lived with a certain degree of insecurity: Letting them know that we’re there and that they’re not alone or lost is a way to connect with them and accompany them.

8. Not accepting that our children are different from us

After years of education and upbringing, perhaps we believe that we’ve modeled our sons and daughters “in our own image and likeness”. However, we need to accept that we gave them resources and tools, but that they’ll act according to their own way of being, according to their own style.

That’s why, when we pressure them and become very detailed in making them do things our way, we make them feel criticized and we restrict their freedom and creativity. It’s important to let them do their own things and accept that we can also learn something ourselves.

Back to the basics: Listening to each other

It’s true that no one comes with a manual under their arm on how to be good parents. No one’s exempt from making mistakes and not knowing what to do in certain circumstances.

However, listening, empathy, and speaking up are tools that can always help, even in the quest to build a solution together.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Garaigordobil Landazabal, M. T. (2018). La educación emocional en la infancia y la adolescencia. Participación educativa.
  • Cerón Perdomo, D. M., Pérez-Olmos, I., & Ibánez Pinilla, M. (2011). Inteligencia emocional en adolescentes de dos colegios de Bogotá. Revista colombiana de psiquiatría40(1), 49-64.
  • Bonet, C., Palma, C., & Gimeno-Santos, M. (2020). Relación entre el maltrato infantil y las habilidades de regulación emocional en adolescentes:: una revisión sistemática. Revista de Psicología Clínica con Niños y Adolescentes7(2), 63-76.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.