Communicating with our teenagers (especially if they are anxious) can often feel like an uphill battle and trying to get them to open up or share their thoughts/feelings can feel almost impossible.
But what if I told you that there's a way to communicate with your teen without even using words? In fact, they possibly won't even realize that you're communicating at all, but they will feel it.
"It's connection by stealth, but it really, really works"
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Love Languages: a game-changer for connection
The 5 Love Languages are a concept developed by Gary Chapman, PhD. Originally intended for couples in strife, Chapman soon realized that these love languages could also be applied to parent-child relationships. They consist of: time, touch, service, gifts, and affirmations.
Each person has a primary love language, and by understanding and utilizing these languages, we can build a stronger connection with our teens.
How To Use the Love Languages for Connection
Time: spending moments together
Quality time is all about giving your teen your undivided attention and about creating moments where they feel seen and heard. This could be one-on-one time or family time with the key being to be fully present and engaged. Put away your phone, eliminate distractions, and truly listen to what your teen may want to say. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture; even finding five minutes in the day to sit down and catch up or do something together, can make a huge difference.
It's about taking those moments & being attentive and fully present
Touch: physical connection and activities
For teens who respond well to physical contact, touch can be a powerful way to communicate love. This could be as simple as hugging them or linking arms while walking. Find activities that involve some physical contact, such as snuggling up on the sofa under a shared blanket or going for a run together with a high-five at the end.
It's about boosting the physical closeness between you and your teen.
Service: acts of kindness and thoughtfulness
Teens whose love language is service, appreciate when someone does something nice for them. This could be as simple as making them their favorite snack when they come home from school or helping them with their homework. Find ways to make their life easier in unexpected ways.
It's about demonstrating that you're thinking of them and that their happiness matters to you.
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Gifts: meaningful tokens of love
Giving gifts in this context, does not mean bankrolling every material whim of your teen. Instead, it's about giving them something meaningful that shows you're thinking of them. This could be a small token like a good luck charm, homemade cookies, or a small present related to their favorite pastime.
It's about giving freely, with no strings attached, demonstrating that they are top of mind.
Affirmations: words of encouragement and appreciation
For teens who respond well to verbal communication, words of affirmation can be incredibly powerful so try offering simple words of encouragement, some praise, or a thank you. Acknowledge their efforts, behavior, and actions positively. This could be as simple as saying "well done" for something they've accomplished or leaving a note on their pillow expressing your pride in them.
It's about making your teen feel good about themselves and their actions.
So What to Do Next?
Now that how to use love languages, it's time to determine which one resonates most with your teen. Observe their reactions and responses to different gestures and see which one elicits a smile or a thank you. It's important to note that there can be more than one love language that your teen responds to, so don't be afraid to mix them up and experiment.
These gestures may seem small, but they can make a significant impact, especially when your teen is feeling vulnerable and communication seems difficult.
These mostly nonverbal strategies are not meant to replace open communication or difficult conversations. They are simply a starting point to build connections and to help our teens feel that we care, create a stronger bond and bridge any gaps that may exist between you.
Your teen may not even realize what you're doing, but they will feel the love and support that you're silently communicating.
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**Disclaimer: This article is for informational & educational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice. The use of this information is at the reader's discretion and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a physician, psychotherapist or other qualified professional, diagnosis or treatment
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