Strengthen relationships between teenagers and adults

  • Encouraging teens to have relationships with elders, is critical for both their emotional and social well-being.

    Encouraging teens to have relationships with elders, is critical for both their emotional and social well-being. Courtesy of Lurie Children's Hospital

 
By Lurie Children’s Hospital

The teenage years -- ages 13 to 19 -- can often be challenging to navigate, especially when building effective and lasting relationships with adults.

Karen Gouze, Ph.D at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, explains how to strengthen relationships between teenagers and adults.

"Teaching your children to build positive relationships with other adults starts with the relationship you have with your child. If your child feels listened to, validated and respected by you, they are going to have confidence to build solid, productive relationships with other adults," says Gouze.

Fostering healthy adult and teen relationships involves: listening to teens when they talk about topics that matter to them, respecting their opinions, initiating conversations, and welcoming their friends into the house.

Encouraging teens to have relationships with elders, is critical for both their emotional and social well-being. Throughout teenage years, adolescents become more independent, where they are able to network and explore new opportunities.

"Teens need to be exposed to ideas outside their families to learn how to get along with a wide variety of people, as they are likely to need these skills to be successful in work and move forward in adulthood," she says.

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Teens are also often at risk for developing mental health difficulties, especially depression, as well as experiencing peer pressure. Gouze says adult relationships serve as social support and can help teens combat mental health issues and deviant behavior during developmental years.

When seeking adults to develop connections with, teens should look for people they generally know and feel comfortable with, such as a teacher or grandparent.

Forming adult relationships provides teens a safe outlet to experiment with new interests and identities, while gaining mentors in return.

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Lurie Children's Hospital. For additional information, visit luriechildrens.org.

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