9 Ways to Connect with Your Teen

For many years at SuperCamp, parents would ask us if we could start a program for them, to help them learn what their kids were learning at SuperCamp. Ask and you shall receive. A few years ago we started Parent Weekend, an intensive three-day parent support program that coincides with the final three days of a 7-day Junior Forum or a 10-day Senior Forum at the same location. The parents who attend love it, including graduating with their kids on the final day.

In addition to exposing parents to many of the learning and life skills their sons and daughters discover at SuperCamp, we also talk with parents about how they can support their children at home. Here are nine great tips we share specifically with parents of Senior Forum students, also known as “teens”:

1. Really listen. Don’t try to listen while doing something else. Put your chores aside so your teen knows you are paying attention.

2. Take the long view. Remember, minor mishaps aren’t major catastrophes. All incidents provide opportunities to practice good communication. Often, categorizing incidents according to their importance will help keep responses and consequences appropriate.  Choose only the most important issues to evoke the strongest consequences.

3. Make time for being together. Find activities you enjoy doing together and pursue them. If your invitation gets turned down, keep trying!

4. Tolerate differences. View your teenager as an individual distinct from you. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t state your opinion if you disagree.

5. Respect your teen’s privacy. Just because he/she wants to keep their door locked, doesn’t mean he/she is doing anything you wouldn’t approve of. But if a behavior is worrying you, speak up!

6. State facts instead of opinions when you praise or discuss problems. Ask your teen to demonstrate “Open the Front Door” – a communication tool we use at SuperCamp.

  • O – is an objective observation about the situation.
  • T – is a thought or opinion about what you observed.
  • F – is a feeling you had about what you observed.
  • D – is what you want, your desire or outcome of the situation.

7. Ask your teen about his/her learning style. Knowing there are differences goes a long way toward explaining why we have problems understanding and communicating with some people and not with others.  When you know what cues he/she picks up on most easily (visual, auditory or kinesthetic), you can take steps to help him/her learn faster and more easily.

8. Support a positive attitude about learning. Create a positive study environment that includes appropriate reference materials, music and reminders that he/she is intelligent (like old report cards, awards, notes from teachers). It is also helpful to demonstrate your own positive feelings about learning.

9. Celebrate success! Positive feedback goes a long way to encourage repeat behavior.  Each accomplishment by a family member deserves acknowledgment, whether verbal or by means of a special treat, like a trip to the movies, a special dessert, or posting on the bulletin board.

Parent Weekend is available at three sessions this summer:

  • July 3-5 at Stanford University
  • July 16-18 at Colorado College
  • August 13-15 at Brown University

For more info, visit SuperCamp.com.

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