If you want to connect with your teen and teach them follow their own heart and instincts (rather than their peers), start preparing when they’re young by teaching them to stay connected to their feelings and body.
One of the practices that has helped me the most when my son got to his teen years, was reminding him from a young age to pay attention to how he’s feeling in his body.
Dr. Candace Pert says that our body is our subconscious mind (audiobook, 2004). Our body sensations (e.g., knots in your stomach, a gut feeling about something, passion for an activity) lead us to following our intuition and our authentic path in life.
Being connected to our body and feelings are the key to being able to follow that intuition, and also to finding the “space in between” that I spoke of in the last post.
When you draw your child or teen’s attention to their body sensations, and how they feel, it helps to take the power struggle out of your relationship. Instead of saying, “listen to me” or “obey me”, you can:
- Be curious about their desire/intention
- Ask questions or give info to inform their decision IF they’re open to it, and
- Tell them that it’s most important to notice how their decisions (about what to do, what to eat, or who to hang out with) make them *feel*.
And when you have conversations with them about how they feel, make sure to be curious and neutral, with no judgment. It’s an exploration; there’s no right and wrong. (And it’s not your job to make sure they do things that make them feel *good*–that will look after itself.)
Ideally, it’s great to start when they’re young, but it’s never too late to start to draw your child’s attention to how they feel in their body, and it serves them well for life.
It may seem counterintuitive because it can be really *hard* when they’re following a path that seems risky and don’t want to listen, don’t take you seriously, or maybe even outright ignore you.
You feel worried or scared for them.
But ultimately they need a “compass” to follow besides you. Living authentically and following their heart means tuning in to their body.
Lastly, heal your own trauma. Trauma disconnects us from our bodies and the present moment. Healing trauma reconnects you with your body, and helps you attune to your kids.
As someone who was disconnected from my parents, staying connected to my child/teen was a main goal. Encouraging body awareness and healing my own trauma are two key strategies that I’ve used and it’s worked. It’s been so worth it.
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