It’s so difficult to shop for our teens. If they need it, they probably already have it. If they want it, do we dare trust ourselves to pick the right one out? Even if we get it spot on, trends are fleeting, and technology is practically obsolete before the wrapping paper is torn off. So what can we get our teens that will always fit, won’t break the bank, will never go out of style, and that they actually want? Here are 10 priceless gifts that teens will appreciate more than anything that can be gift-wrapped.
1. Your Attention
The number one thing most teens want is just to be heard, especially by their parents. Take some time out this holiday season to sit one-on-one with your teen and just listen to what she has to say. No distractions allowed.
2. Your Empathy
Teens are wired to feel very intensely and passionately. These emotions help them define who they are. One of the most powerful ways to help your teen build confidence in himself is by validating his feelings, even if you don’t understand or agree with them. Remember, it’s how your teen expresses emotions, not the emotions themselves that you want to influence.
3. Your Flexibility
We get the idea that consistency is critical when raising children, however, we often mistake it for stubbornness and rigidity. We fear that if we change our minds or admit we are wrong, we will somehow lose our credibility and authority. Quite the contrary. Being fair and humble can actually earn your teen’s respect. This doesn’t mean letting her get away with things or walk all over you. It means, listening to her perspective, taking her points into consideration and making adjustments to rules and expectations when it makes sense.
4. Your Forgiveness
Teens make mistakes. We all do. Address the issue, implement the consequence and move on. Harping, holding a grudge and dragging out your displays of disappointment will only strengthen your teen’s resentment and weaken his resolve to do better.
5. Your Laughter
When was the last time you and your teen just hung out and had fun together? Laugh at your teen’s jokes and stories, play games, watch a funny movie together, do whatever you can to show your teen how much you enjoy spending time with her.
6. Your Love
Of course, you love your teen, but how often do you make that blatantly obvious to him? Hugs, token gifts, being generous with your time, doing something nice for him for no apparent reason—there are so many simple ways to show your teen how important he is to you.
7. Your Patience
Nothing is more frustrating than an obstinate and disrespectful teen. But getting angry, yelling or stonewalling your child will only add fuel to the emotional fire. Instead, take a deep breath and deal with the situation in a calm and mature manner. Not only will this facilitate a faster resolution, but it’ll teach your teen the essential art of self-control.
8. Your Support
Are you the president of your teen’s fan club, the captain of her cheer team, the leader of her booster club, so to speak? As long as your teen has you in her corner rooting her on, she’s got all the support she needs to succeed.
9. Your Time
We all have innumerable responsibilities and obligations fighting for our precious and limited time. But we also know, that if it’s a priority, we somehow find a way to fit it in. Make your teen a priority. Find the time to talk, take a walk, toss a ball, go to lunch—anything that gives you some one-on-one time with your child.
10. Your Understanding
Although it may feel like a million lifetimes ago, try to remember what you felt and thought when you were a teenager. Technology and trends may have changed drastically since then, but what teens experience on the inside has remained the same: the self-doubt, desperate need for acceptance, fear of rejection, and rollercoaster of emotions. Try to see the world and your relationship through his eyes before jumping to conclusions or making any decisions.
Sure, smartphones, gaming systems and designer clothing may delight your teen at first, but the thrill is usually short-lived. After the initial “new stuff high,” she’ll quickly move on to the next thing she thinks she needs to feel fulfilled—and the cycle will continue endlessly. On the other hand, your time, patience, understanding, etc. have a long-lasting positive impact and contribute to a deeper sense of satisfaction and contentment. They truly are the gifts that keep on giving.
About the author
Dr. Cameron Caswell is a family coach, author, public speaker, teacher, and founder of the Fuel Center, LLC which specializes in helping parents and their teens redefine their relationship, rebuild mutual respect and trust, and learn to live together in harmony. Learn more at www.theFuelCenter.com.