Nikki has hit the phase where she prefers to be alone in her room more than anywhere else in our house. E did this too, and I remember it very vividly during my own teen years. As she retreats more and more often I started to remember how I coped with it when E was her age…
I just hung out in his bedroom too.
So, that’s what I’m doing to her. I just knock on her door and if she’s busy I just bring my phone or my bullet journal and I do my own thing while she paints her nails or does her homework. Sometimes we just sit together and both do our own thing, but most of the time she starts chatting with me either about what she’s working on, or what she’s watching, or what she’s listening to. Sometimes I’ll remark on some new cool thing she’s added to her walls or a new way she’s arranged her room. Sometimes she asks for help with homework, other times she vents about middle school drama. But it’s all stuff that wouldn’t happen if I didn’t force myself into her space.
Recently, my husband lamented how sad it makes him that she doesn’t hang out and watch TV with us anymore. I said to him, “Just go into her room and hang out with her! That’s what I do!” So last night? We were all hanging out in her room while she chatted about school stuff and organized her desk while he and I just sat on her bed watching her do her thing.
Of course, there are a few things you have to accept/do before you use this method.
- It’s not time to criticize their room. If you are simply looking for time with your teenager you have to leave the Nagging Parent hat in the hall. There are plenty of times to critique their messy room, the time when you’re to just hang out in their space? IS NOT THE TIME. Sometimes I just will start helping clean up a little bit which – as long if I don’t accompany it with snarky comments – she really appreciates.
- Compliment their space as much as possible. If you don’t ever say anything about their room they feel your voice criticizing it. If they’re like my daughter they’ve gone out of their way to personalize their space, so point out the things you like about it so that they relax a little more while you’re in there. You know how it is the first time you have new family/friends come in your home, you always relax a little bit if they talk about how they love it. Do the same to your child! Then they won’t be so anxious by your presence.
- Don’t force them to chat. Let them know you are completely fine just hanging out and playing on your phone while they do their thing. It makes them much more comfortable with your presence in their space if they don’t feel every time you’re in there that they are going to have to do some sort of bonding song/dance. Let conversation happen naturally. It’s okay to try to start, “What subject are you working on? What TV show are you watching?” but if they just answer briefly that’s okay. You did invade THEIR space so just trust that the more you’re there, the more conversation will happen. EVENTUALLY.
We actually ended up staying and hanging out with her in her room until about 9pm last night so we all overslept this morning! But it was great and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for time with your teenager.