If you're a parent of a teenager, it is possible to connect and have fun with them over Winter break. Adolescent and Family Therapist, Yshai Boussi, L.P.C., joined us today with helpful tips on how to do just that:
Tips For A Great Winter Break With Your Teen
If you’re a parent of a teen or preteen, winter break can be a period consumed by stress and
worry. Frustration builds and everyone ends up feeling disconnected. But it doesn’t have to be
that way. Winter break is a unique opportunity to reconnect, learn, and have fun with your teen
in new ways. Below are some tips to help you and your teen have a wonderful break together.
Anticipate your sources of stress. Relatives visiting, lack of structure, shopping, planning gettogethers
and trying to keep everyone happy are sources of stress for many parents. Planning
and thinking about these challenges in advance will make it less likely that you’lll be blind sided
and more likely that you will be able to respond in positive ways.
Talk with your teen about expectations over the break. What are their needs? What are your
needs? Work together to find mutually agreeable solutions. Depending on your teen’s level of
maturity it may be helpful to share some of your sources of stress. This will often open the door
for your teen to share their worries and concerns with you as well.
Explore new opportunities to connect with your teen: Start a new tradition, use their input
for making a dinner or planning an event. Play board games, have a movie marathon, read
a book together, learn something new about your teen: music they like, a hobby, texting,
Volunteer in a meaningful way with your teen. This is the single best antidote to entitlement.
Teens respond to experience not information. Find ways to give them positive experiences over
the break that involve making a difference in the life of another. This can involve strangers,
neighbors, family, friends, or animals.
Manage your own anxiety and frustration by focusing on the strengths and blessings
of your family. During the holidays it’s easy to forget just how lucky we are to be parents in
this place and time. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Make sure that you put fun and
connection with your child ahead of your need to worry or have everything go smoothly.
As a family, reflect on the last year. What went well, what didn’t go well. Set individual and
collective goals for the upcoming year. With a reluctant teen, do this first yourself and share it
with your child. This can be a great way to facilitate a conversation.
Help your teen get organized and help others at the same time. Have your kids donate
stuff they don’t use or wear. This can facilitate bonding, build empathy, and improve their
Be aware of what you’re modeling to your teen. With all the down time, your teen has more
opportunity to observe you. What are you modeling with your actions about: Stress? Conflict?
Family? Communication? Alcohol? Priorities? Respect?
Have fun. As parents, we often take ourselves way too seriously. Find time to play and be
silly with your teen. This will help build trust and respect that will eventually lead to better
communication. Hopefully you will also be reminded that parenting a teen can be fun.
For more helpful tips like these, check out Yshai's monthly newsletter.