Staying connected: 25 easy ways to bond with older kids, tweens and teens 4 days ago

Staying connected: 25 easy ways to bond with older kids, tweens and teens

My little girl is suddenly not so little anymore.

In just seven months, she will turn 13, and to be honest, I am not quite sure how that happened, as to me, she was just two.

She is amazing, though, and based on our relationship today, I can't say I am too worried about her teen years. She is kind and caring and honest and silly and responsible and true to herself and obviously; I am hoping and praying that we will always be as close as we are now.

But the teenage years can be tricky. It is a time when children get more independent, more reliant on their peers, and suddenly, as parents, you are not the be all and end all anymore. There will be pressure and exams and parties and peers, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought, to be very honest.

However, when the time does come, and I officially have a teenager in my house, I am planning to be prepared.

And by prepared I mean make sure our bond is so close that we will navigate these years somewhat together – and come out the other side as close as we are right now.

 

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Et innlegg delt av Trine Jensen-Burke ? (@trine_jensen_burke)

I think the most important thing to focus on is staying connected. Making sure that, even though she will be getting more independent and have a life of school and friends outside of the family, that we still remain close, and that she knows she can come to me with whatever. And spending time together will, I am hoping, keep this bond strong.

In fact, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Youth Studies found that quality time with parents served as a better predictor of teenagers' academic aspirations than time spent doing homework with teens or attending extra-curricular activities. The researchers also found that parents who discussed books, attended cultural events, and brought teens on community outings raised their teens' aspirations.

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In other words, giving your teen regular doses of positive attention will also help you maintain a healthy relationship, which can reduce behaviour problems and set your child up for success later in life.

With that in mind; here are 25 easy and fun activities (many of these totally free too) you can do to stay close to your teen and tween. Buckle up, parents – the teenager years are coming:

1. Eat dinner together

Maybe the most simple, yet effective thing you can do in terms of keeping family bonds close.

2. Start family traditions

Pizza Fridays and Taco Tuesdays are winners in our house.

 

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Et innlegg delt av Trine Jensen-Burke ? (@trine_jensen_burke)

3. Go window shopping

Fun – and won't cost you a penny.

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4. Plan a family holiday

Let everyone come up with things they would like to see and do.

5. Decorate their bedroom together

They will love getting to pick their own style.

6. Host boardgame night

Let them invite their friends too.

7. Go for a walk together after dinner

A bit of exercise AND a chance to catch up.

8. Invite their friends over for movie night

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If the weather allows it, why not do an outdoor screening in the garden?

9. Watch a sunrise together

It's these little moments that are so important.

10. Go on a hike

Break a sweat and have the chats.

11. Hug every day

Hugs really are the easiest way to stay close to people.

12. Make homemade pizza

Bonus: It's an activity and dinner.

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Et innlegg delt av Trine Jensen-Burke ? (@trine_jensen_burke)

13. Go to an amusement park

Laughing together is the best.

14. Do a 30-day challenge together

It could be squats, it could be eating meat-free – just do it together.

15. Volunteer for something together

Pick plastic from beaches, serve soup at a soup kitchen... Do an act of kindness together.

16. Create a photo album

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Or look through old ones.

17. Binge-watch a Netflix show together

Let them pick!

18. Join your local park run

Get fit together, or just have some fresh air fun!

19. Eat at a different restaurant every month

A great way to explore your local city, too.

20. Go backpacking together

Yes, it'll require some planning, but they will love doing this adventure with you. And you don't even have to go far  – just hop on a train and off you go.

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21. Go bowling

The whole family can join.

22. Go on a road trip

A great family adventure awaits.

23. Go to a museum together

Learning something new is a great way to bond.

24. Hit the shops

Stock up on some new summer wardrobe bits – for you and them.

25. Just talk

Talk to them about your life and your day, and let them know they can do the same in return. Keeping the lines of communication open will keep you bonded.