Connecting with your Teens over the Holidays

      It is possible to have a happy holiday with teens. Yshia Boussi -- a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in adolescents and couple -- stopped by to help us get from tension to connection with our teens this holiday season.

      For more great tips and information from Yshai, check out his blog.

      7 Tips To Get From Tension to Connection with your Teen this Holiday Season.

      1. Honor the dark side. For many teens, this time of year conjures up difficult memories from the past. The loss of a loved one, a divorce or a traumatic experience are all reasons that teens may want to skip all the cheer. Instead of trying to drown their sorrows with gingerbread lattes, validate their feelings by letting them know that you understand how hard this time must be for them.

      2. Be transparent. If you're having money struggles this year and feel guilty, acknowledge it. If you're stressed about certain family members coming over, admit it. Be honest if there are some aspects of the holiday season that you don't enjoy at all. Sharing in an open way like this will boost your credibility with your teen and significantly improve your connection.

      3. Focus on character traits. Let them know you appreciate their integrity, kindness and effort. Avoid focusing on grades, achievements or a clean room. Don't just say "thanks". This can feel hollow. Be specific with examples.

      4. Make Time. Schedule at least one day off just to be with your teen, without technology. Make a firm commitment to this or it may not happen.

      5. Connect with their friends. Capitalize on the many opportunities that winter break provides in this regard. Respect the need they have to prioritize their "second family".

      6. Engage your teen in giving. One way to do this could be to give your teen money to spend on a good cause of their choice or a specific person or family in need.

      7. Be clear and firm about your expectations. It can be difficult as a parent when your child doesn't comply. It's incredibly frustrating for teens however, when they're not clear about what you expect of them.