Every generation of parents struggle to connect with teens and “tweens”. This is a time when children they start drifting away from family activities to spend more time with their friends. They want to experiment with the limits of their newfound freedoms.
Finding common ground or a way to get more than just 1-2 word answers out of your teen or tween is not an easy task. Raging hormones, independence, and enormous peer pressure can batter your kids mentally and emotionally, and this is a period in their lives when they need you the most.
Fun family activities can be a gateway into the lives of teens and tweens who think they’re too old, or too cool, to spend time with mom and dad. By focusing on family activities, you take the pressure off of them to open up, and you can get a glimpse at what’s really going on in their lives.
These four activities reach across a variety of interests, and should help you find a way to take the first step in reconnecting with your teen or tween.
Gone are the days of boring board games like Life or Sorry (I know we thought they were great). Today’s games are complex puzzles of strategy, luck, teamwork, and communication that encourage conversation and debate.
Games like Settlers of Catan have been proven big hits with people of all ages, and your kids can use these family activities to practice for the next game night they host with their friends. Board games like these offer plenty of downtime to talk and laugh, putting your teens and tweens at ease.
Let Yourself Be Taught
When your kids were little, they were probably willing to sit for hours watching you work on a task. They wanted to spend time with you, and they were fascinated at the chance to learn a new skill.
As you get older, maybe it’s time to let your children show off their own special abilities, and teach you something in the process. Ask you kids to show you how to apply filters to your pictures on Instagram. Let them show off their video game skills as one of your family activities. These family activities allow your children to express themselves in an area where they excel and feel most comfortable.
Many teens and tweens take music and/or theater. Have them perform for the family and be 100% certain no one has a smartphone in their lap to avoid distractions. Make it your mission to stay and engage way longer than you might otherwise, and watch them share and open up.
Find A Show To Watch Together
Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming services brought hundreds of television shows to your home at the touch of a button, so sift through the choices for a classic show to watch together.
Pick a weeknight, so your teen or tween doesn’t spend the whole night angry they couldn’t go out with their friends. Binge watch a couple of episodes of the show, and ask your child thoughts. They may start out talking about the show, but soon they’ll be telling you about their lives.
Often there can be a break through when everyone is liked up on sofas, wrapped in blankets sharing popcorn for HOURS at a time. Needs to be a show they pick though!
Sometimes the best way to engage with your children is to force them away from the screen with outdoor family activities.
Places like our very own Refreshing Mountain Adventure Center are ideal for outdoor family activities. With the Challenge Adventure, your family will build strong memories of climbing the high ropes course, then taking a fast paced zipline back to the ground. Pony rides and nature excursions allow for a more relaxed pace and simple conversation.
Engaging with your teen or tween takes a commitment on your part to meet your children on their level. Ask specific questions with details that show you’ve been paying attention to what they say. Use family activities to open the door to conversations. Most importantly, listen and be patient. See you on the course!