The Six “A’s” of Connecting With Your Teen
from the book The Disconnected Generation by Josh McDowell.
Acceptance — giving youth a sense of security.
When parents accept their kids for who they are it gives teens a sense of security. It is important to send them the message that they are loved for who they are, not for what they do. When your kids know that you love and accept them unconditionally they feel secure about themselves and the relationship they have with you. It creates a loving bond between parents and teens and allows teens to do their best knowing that you will be there for them, even when they mess up.
Affirmation – giving youth a sense of authenticity.
When you affirm your teen’s feelings, you give them a sense of authenticity. When you understand and acknowledge your teen’s feelings, you are sending the message that they are real individuals with valid feelings. When you share their excitement and disappointments, you let them know that they are understood for who they really are – unique individuals.
Appreciation – giving youth a sense of significance.
When parents express appreciation to their teens, it gives them a sense of significance. Just as acceptance means to love your kids for who they are, appreciation is loving your teen for what they do. Teens want to know that they are valuable and that their accomplishments make a difference to someone. It conveys the message, ”Hey, I’m worth something to someone. My parents want me around and they are proud of me.” The more you praise your teen for doing what’s right, the less you will have to criticize and discipline them for doing what is wrong.
Affection – giving youth a sense of lovability.
When parents show affection to their teens, it gives them a sense of lovability. You send the message that your teen is worthy of being loved. Expressing your love through tender words of affection and appropriate touches like hugging reinforces your emotional connection. Touching makes us feel close and removes the aloneness in life. There is great power in a simple hug, and hearing the words “I love you” is essential.
Availability – giving youth a sense of importance.
When parents spend time with their teens, they give them a sense of importance. We live in a busy world, and our time is filled with important deadlines and duties. Making time to focus on your teen might be difficult, but it is extremely important because it sends the message that you value your son or daughter highly and enjoy being with them. Teens want their parents’ attention and will be more willing to open up to you if you make it a priority to be available to them.
Accountability – giving youth a sense of responsibility.
When parents require accountability from their teens, they give them a sense of responsibility. Accountability balances out the other five A’s by providing limits and boundaries to teach them about being responsible. It gives teens parameters in which to operate safely. Teens need the loving authority of their parents to make responsible choices. When your teen was younger, you might have done everything for them, but as they grow up, you must let them do things for themselves. However, you need to also provide guidelines so they don’t get lost or hurt. Accountability also allows you and your teen to grow and develop trust and mutual respect.