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Maintaining strong relationships with adolescent children

Why is the parent-adolescent relationship so important?

The importance of the parent-child relationship remains evident, even as children progress into adolescence (Hair et al., 2008).

 

A strong bond is not only associated with improvements in adolescents’ motivation in learning (Shao & Kang, 2022), but also with better mental wellbeing (Stafford et al, 2015), among many other positive outcomes.

 

While parenting and adapting constantly to different developmental milestones in our childrens’ lives are certainly no easy feats, the multitude of benefits that this unique relationship yields is a powerful enough  reason to keep striving!

 

Building and maintaining rapport with our children is largely influenced by the effectiveness of communication within the family unit, and can even affect how easily conflicts are resolved when tension runs high. 

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Improving communication within families

Healthy channels of communication play a crucial role in fostering positive relationships between family members and promote the healthy development of adolescents. On the other hand, conflict and maladaptive family dynamics have been linked with various negative outcomes in teenagers such as depression, delinquency, substance abuse and poor academic performance. 

One possible way to develop stronger communication styles would be through the use of outdoor recreation activities. As they typically require clear communication, trust, cooperation and mutual respect among family members, engaging frequently in such team-based and outdoor programs could promote more harmonious family dynamics (Huff et al., 2023). 

 

So, the next time you plan a family outing, do consider engaging in challenging recreational outdoor activities such as camping or obstacle courses! Feel free to explore other activities that promote teamwork and communication, and most importantly, create fun memories for the whole family to boost social and emotional well-being and connection.
 

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Managing conflicts between parents and adolescents
During adolescence, conflicts between parents and their children grow increasingly common as young individuals navigate the transition to adulthood, assuming new roles and responsibilities (Mastrotheodoros et al., 2020).

 

With adolescents developing into independent individuals with their own perspectives and preferences, the occurrence of conflict is natural. Hence, in this phase of life, the importance of effective conflict resolution becomes more crucial.

 

Beyond forming the foundation for a healthy family dynamic and reducing stress at home, conflict resolution is also linked to adolescents’ well-being. Acquiring the skill to resolve conflicts, especially with parents, facilitates an improvement in self-esteem and a reduction in depressive symptoms (Raising Children Network, 2023).
 

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As parents, how can we play our part in managing conflicts at home? Here are some tips (Raising Children Network, 2023):

  • Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for our adolescent children to express their feelings without judgement. 
     

  • Focus on issues or behaviour rather than making generalisations about the child.
     

  • After conflicts, allow the adolescent to have some space to calm down before addressing or “problem-solving” the issue.
     

Do give these tips a try, regardless of how strong (or otherwise) your relationship with your children is!

 

For more social wellness topics, check out our Total Wellness Initiative Singapore Website!

References

Conflict management with pre-teens and teenagers. (n.d.). Raising Children Network. Retrieved August 14, 2023, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/teens/communicating-relationships/communicating/conflict-management-with-teens

Hair, E. C., Moore, K. A., Garrett, S. B., Ling, T., & Cleveland, K. (2008). The continued importance of quality parent–adolescent relationships during late adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 18(1), 187–200. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2008.00556.x

Huff, C., Widmer, M., McKoy, K., Hill, B. (2003). The Influence of Challenging Outdoor Recreation on Parent-Adolescent Communication. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 37(1), 18-37. http://www.bctra.org/wp-content/uploads/tr_journals/1024-4016-1-PB.pdf 

Mastrotheodoros, S., Van der Graaff, J., Deković, M., Meeus, W. H. J., & Branje, S. (2020). Parent–adolescent conflict across adolescence: Trajectories of informant discrepancies and associations with personality types. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49(1), 119–135. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01054-7

Shao, Y., & Kang, S. (2022). The link between parent–child relationship and learning engagement among adolescents: The chain mediating roles of learning motivation and academic self-efficacy. Frontiers in Education, 7, 854549. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2022.854549

Tucker, C. J., Mchale, S. M., & Crouter, A. C. (2003). Conflict Resolution: Links with Adolescents’ Family Relationships and Individual Well-Being. Journal of Family Issues, 24(6), 715–736. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X03251181

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