How does your teen like to be loved? Sometimes we get mixed messages when we’re trying to show our teens that we love them. Adapted from Gary Chapman, the following areas are guidelines to learn more about your teen. I’ve included examples from the teens themselves about what they like from their parents! Get curious about how they respond, and have fun! Here are 5 Ways to Show Your Teen Love:
1. Words of Affirmation: Find something specific that your teen has done or said that you can praise: hard work, effort and examples of an activity they enjoy. Expressions of affection have a huge impact on your teen as a person, such as, “I love you, I’m proud of you for…, I thought of you today when…” Sticky notes, quotes from movies, inside jokes, texts and funny pictures (find some from when they were little) all create connection.
2. Physical Touch: As simple as a pat on the back, hug before school or (your) bedtime, or even a high five in congratulations. Be mindful of boundaries in the presence of others such as school or friends, but when teens are open to physical contact, they feel nurtured and calm. Some teens feel comfortable with foot rubs or back rubs, while others would prefer to be loved at a distance. Teens love fuzzy socks, blankets and sweatshirts. That counts as touch too!
3. Quality Time: Undivided attention (without phones) is powerful and rare. Teens love attention, and they can be highly sensitive to distracted parents. True communication and engagement consist of an engagement of energy. When this is felt, your teen is left feeling confident and connected. This love language takes a bit more focus and commitment, but the impact will be felt for days. Share a meal one on one, a conversation late at night, cook a meal together or walk the dogs together. Ask questions about their interests and show curiosity about their viewpoints. (You don’t have to agree!)
4. Acts of Service: Intention is everything. Offers to help with projects, teaching difficult chores and fostering independence together contributes to confidence and connection. Offering to drive your teen to practice or take their friends to get a snack feels loving to a teen. Even quizzing your student for a test, especially if you throw in a few corny jokes, can feel like that little bit of extra effort for your teen. When your teen comes home late from practice or is up late studying, some popcorn, hot chocolate or heating up leftovers lets them know they’re seen and loved.
5. Gifts: An undeserved tangible object means a lot to a teen who loves gifts. Surprising them with their favorite gum, candy, or snack for the car shows that you’re paying attention to their specific likes. While visiting the mall and shopping for a relative, let your teen pick out a little something for themselves. If your teen has a favorite team or enjoys jewelry, there are many inexpensive gifts that let your teen know you “see” them and their interests. For random gifts and holidays, Etsy has many personalized gifts and ideas to surprise your teen.
Have fun and get curious! Love is the language that connects us all!