Family, Kids & Relationships

12 unique ways to connect with your teen

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While most young kids are more than happy to talk for hours and clamor for their parents’ attention, as they get older their enthusiasm for sharing stories (and personal space) with adults tends to wane. By the time they’re teenagers, kids are usually far more interested in connecting with peers than their parents.

This is a completely natural part of their development, of course. We raise our kids to become independent and discover their own identities, and in doing so they gravitate toward people their own age. What was once welcome attention from their caregivers can start to feel controlling, or at best, just plain boring. As a result, it can be notoriously tough for parents to get more than a one-syllable response from.

March 21 is National Teenager Day, a day set aside to celebrate your teen and let them know how much you appreciate them being in your life. But parents of teens want to connect with them all the time, not just one day!

These activities can be used to strengthen your bond and just have fun with your teen—any day of the year.

Simple starter

If you tend to get grunts, eye rolls, or one-syllable responses when you ask your teen how their day was, get them to open up with a creative question.

Fun ways to connect with your teen

Ready to go a bit deeper? Arrange one of these fun activities to give you and your teen even more time to bond, and more memories to build.

  • Social media feed contest: Who can find a sappy-couple-in-love post first? A cat picture? A bad typo?
  • Ask for their advice, whether it’s about an outfit, a conflict with a coworker, a tech issue, or your menu plan for the week.
  • Open up. Reveal embarrassing stories about your own prom, braces, or first date. Or share a story about a time you really struggled or something that happened when you were their age
  • Show them pictures from when you were their age, or look through photos and videos of them when they were little.
  • Try something new as a family—cater your adventure to things you all normally enjoy, whether that’s a craft, hike, an impromptu game of playground basketball, or trip to an international grocery store.
  • Do Mad Libs (you can find some online, or download the free app) for a quick laugh.
  • Take a walk or drive together—being side-by-side can make the conversation flow more easily.
  • Play Fact or Fiction—each person says two true things and one untrue thing about themselves, and the other guesses which is “fiction.” You could both learn something fun about each other!
  • Take silly selfies together using special effects.
  • Play a board game or video game together. Try a brand new one, or pull out a classic from their childhood for a sense of nostalgia.
  • Plan and cook a meal or dessert together, or make a snack neither of you has ever tried before.
  • Take turns teaching each other something new, like a dance move or how to play a favorite video game.

And for more great ways to really help kids open up, click here for hundreds of free questions on all types of topics—some of which are specifically geared toward teens—that’ll spark even more amazing conversations!

ParentsTogether is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit community of over 3 million parents, caregivers, and advocates working together to make the world a better place for all children and families.