Struggling to bond with your adolescent child? Learn how to strengthen your parent-teen relationship.

Your child is growing up and beginning to forge her own path. That push for independence, however, can often take a toll on the parent-child bond that used to come easily.

Ilana Luft-Barrett, PhD, a child psychologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, recommends the following tips for bonding with your teen:

  • Avoid judgment. It can be easy to view your child’s interests, such as video games or social media, as silly, but this judgment can undermine your relationship. Choosing to accept or to learn more about his interests can open the door for communication.
  • Provide boundaries. Teenagers should have clear expectations and consequences for their behavior. However, you can provide those boundaries while still listening to and validating your child’s feelings. Even if she does not get what she wants, it is important for her to know that you understand where she is coming from.
  • Spend time together. Whether you are going to a ball game or quietly reading in the same room, it is important to pick activities you both enjoy—not activities you think he “should enjoy.”

Have questions or concerns regarding your teen? Call St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s parent helpline at 314.454.TEEN for helpful resources.