A while ago, while attending a meeting at another church, I noticed the youth pastor there pull the hair of one of the girls in the church when she wasn’t looking. When she turned around in shock, he smiled and said, “Hi”. His juvenile antics not only made me immediately lose respect for him, but the young lady with the hurting head couldn’t hide the look of contempt from her face. It’s really sad when adults believe they have to act like teens in order to connect with them. Having three teenage daughters currently in my home and having coached high school football for 12 years, I’ve learned a few things about connecting with teens. Here are a few tips:
1. Take an interest in what they’re interested in. Talk to them about what they like to talk about.
2. Never “talk down” to them, but lift them up with encouraging words. Other teens are more than happy to criticize and tear them down, be an adult.
3. Look them in the eyes and give them your undivided attention. This is another thing that they rarely get from their peers or other adults.
4. Humor helps. Not their humor, but yours.
5. Be yourself. Teens are skilled at spotting fakes.
6. Consistency counts. When they know you’re reliable, they’ll be willing to let you in to their world and thoughts.
7. Keep it cool. Teens don’t talk deep at the flip of a switch. It takes time to build report with them. Once you do, guard the trust that’s been built in the relationship.
If you apply these tips, you won’t have to resort to pulling out hair (yours of theirs) to connect with your teenager 😉