This Teen Talk Tuesday is a great way to check in on all of your children to make sure they are getting their needs met. You can talk in a group or have this conversation one on one, but I love this one as a group…it is less awkward, there are more ideas, and better family buy in. One thing I found was that even my one child who acted like this was kind of dumb ended up changing some of his behaviors on his own.

The conversation is ESPECIALLY important as our lives become more and more digital…most of these needs were met by default during other eras but today we often have to make a real effort. When my kids are grumpy or feeling down, we can also run through this list to see what they might need more of that day.

Hopefully it will help your kids feel they can open up and let you know what is lacking. Here is how it could go (yours, of course, will be different depending on your family):

M: There was a study that came out by the National Association of Early Childhood Educators that said that all kids needs these four things every day to feel happy: nature, physical touch, human connection, and physical movement. How is our family doing on these? What do we need more of?
K: I feel like we go outside a lot.
M: True, we do have the nature part down, but it is getting colder, which might make it more difficult. What could we do to make sure we still get out into nature?
K: We could shovel snow for people or walk instead of drive when we are going somewhere close. We could walk home from school.
M: Good ideas. How are we doing with physical touch?
K: We wrestle a lot.
M: True :). I have been reading a lot about how important hugs are. I know everyone is not a hugger, but it is so important for all of us, so let’s try to hug before school and before bed as a start. I need to be better about that for sure and you guys still need to hug each other too,even though you are getting old! Can everyone help make that happen? You are all going to have to remind me because I am not great at this. How are we doing with Physical Movement?
K: Really good. We all have practice for our stuff.
M: You are right, but sometimes that isn’t every day, and with the weather turning, how can we all make sure we are getting that physical movement in?
K: We could do push ups and sit ups before bed each night or jumping jacks.
M: I like that. I need it too! When I am sedentary during the day, I just feel kind of low. You guys are much better at physical activity. Maybe we could do more family walks or basketball games when we are having a slower day. Let’s all remind each other to be active whenever we can. What about human connection?
K: What does that even mean?
M: Talking with people, face to face or even on the phone or doing or sharing things with people that make you feel really connected. Like this, or working together, or playing a game or doing homework together.
K: Oh, okay. We are fine.
M: I thought you might say that, but we can improve for sure. Having dinner together electronic free and really talking helps me feel connected. Playing games together, working on a project together, all those things make me feel connected to you and will help you feel more connected to each other. What do you think?
K: Yeah, those things too I guess.
M: What are some things that keep up from those four things?
K: Electronics, being lazy.
M: How can we all help each other meet those four needs every day?
K: We can just remind each other. Or if someone is just watching TV or on their phone or something we can invite them to do something else with us. We could set timers to remind us too.
M: I love those ideas. What if someone is feeling especially grumpy?
K: Maybe we should see what we are missing of those four things and try one of them to see if we feel better.
M: I love that! Let’s give all these ideas a try and see if it helps our family feel closer and happier this week.