Carve out a regular time to hang out with her. A recent study cited by the Child Development Institute showed that many teens are worried about not having time with their parents, so don’t let your daughter feel that way. Have a regular family dinner, drive her to and from school, or plan a special mother-daughter/father-daughter trip.
Start with easy questions. Most teens don’t want to walk in the door and have to answer heavy, anxious questions like “Are you having sex?” or “Are your friends doing drugs?” Just ask her how school was, how her friends are doing, and what her plans are for this weekend. Then work your way up to the big things, if she’s comfortable.
Affirm that she can talk to you about anything. For the teenage girls interviewed by Oprah.com advice columnist Elizabeth Berkley, hearing that they could talk to their moms about anything helped them to open up. If she’s not talking to you much today, you can say “Just know that I’m always here to listen if you want to talk.” The girls interviewed said that even if a teenager doesn’t seem to acknowledge your words, she’ll appreciate your availability.
Listen without judgment. When you say that she can talk to you about anything, you have to make good on that promise by not flipping out when she says things that might be hard to hear. Berkley’s informants said that even subtle negative cues, like raised eyebrows, made them steer clear of opening up, and a full-blown parental freakout will ensure that she’s wary of talking to you about the big things again.
Don’t give her consequences for the things she tells you. Even if she tells you a story about a mistake she’s made, you shouldn’t tell her that she can come to you with anything and then punish her for sharing. Discuss the moral implications of her decisions with her if you need to, but don’t ground her for her past actions. It’s better to stay focused on the present and what she could do differently in the future.
Share your stories with her. Teens in Berkley’s article felt closer with their mothers after hearing that the teenage years were tough for them, too. If you behave as though you’ve always been a perfect, responsible adult, your teen might be afraid to open up about mistakes. Share your vulnerabilities with her to make her feel more comfortable.
The first moment you see your baby girl there is a bond that is the basis for maternal love and nurture. This first attachment between you and your daughter is the primary model a she will use as a basis for intimate relationships and positive self-esteem, according to Kid’sHealth. Everything about how she develops -- physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally -- depends on the nature of this bonding. But it is your cooing, kissing and cuddling that brings a sense of security to your baby girl.
During childhood you act as a role model for your daughters and sons. But early in childhood boys break away sooner than their sisters to identify with dad, according to Virginia Tech’s scholarly journal, "The Allan Review." This leaves your daughter to identify so closely with you that it may be difficult for her to develop her own sense of identity as she reaches adolescence. She plays with dolls, imitates what you do and responds to your positive reinforcement.
For some mothers and daughters the teen years can be the most challenging of their relationship. Your little lady is growing into a woman with her own mind and way of doing things; in other words – independence and individuality are blooming. This means more freedom, less constraints and less communication with you, according to an article by Dr. Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D. published in "Psychology Today." He adds that because mom and daughter are sexually similar and connected from before birth, the ties are hard to break for both and lead to some interesting, if not heated, confrontations and dilemmas.
As parent and child age and mature, the structure of the mother daughter relationship matures. It is at this time that your daughter begins to see you as a person, not just her mother. There is a shared value and investment in family. If tension, however, still exists between the two of you it could be because your daughter bugs you as much as you bug her, states Penn State research published in the 1997 winter issue of "Psychology and Aging." Often the daughter wants to care for mom -- who doesn’t see herself in need of care -- and mom wants to continue to care for her now-grown daughter who sees this as an intrusion. Often each side has a hard time accepting each other for the way they are.
Indulge in some mother-daughter time that includes pampering, special treats and fancy outfits or hats. Churches often hold mother-daughter brunches, luncheons or tea parties around Mother's Day; however, they can be planned at any time of year. Some unique suggestions for girly church socials include a crazy hat party, a mother-daughter sleepover, a princess party, and a potluck dinner or dessert party. Plan some games for the event or have contests for the silliest hat or best-dressed doll. Preschool-aged girls will have a ball playing dress up with their moms or bringing their dolls to a fancy tea party.
Preschool girls love to help out and can have fun acting grown-up just like mom. Moms can set a good example for their daughters by participating in a helpful church ministry with them. Mother-daughter teams can help pick up groceries for a church member who is sick or elderly, bake cookies for a family going through a rough time, or hand out supplies at the food pantry to represent their church. Visiting sick children at the hospital or elderly in a nursing home is another way mothers and daughters can help out. Have your daughter make cheery pictures and cards to deliver to the people you visit to lift their spirits.
Learning New Hobbies
Bond with your little girl by learning something new together. Preschool girls will enjoy activities such as pottery, painting, cooking and gardening. Many churches have groups similar to Girl Scouts where mothers and daughters can work together to earn badges in different activities. In these groups, girls also learn Bible verses, songs and games. Get moving with your preschooler by starting a mommy-daughter yoga night or learning some new dance steps together. Learn to garden and spruce up the church grounds as an activity.
Bring your daughter on a date to a church event such as a kids' concert, movie under the stars or a play. Preschool girls are full of imagination and wonder, and can probably sit still long enough to enjoy an event at church meant for children. If you have an active little girl, choose a concert where dancing and singing is acceptable. Attending church-sponsored entertaining events can instill values in your daughter while having fun.
Show an interest in her life. Perhaps your daughter plays volleyball, and your anything but athletic. Set aside your interests for a time, and focus on your daughter's. Whether you're watching her in an athletic event or band performance, your presence, smile and cheering can strengthen your relationship.
Avoid unnecessary criticism. Your teen daughter might struggle with self-consciousness just as she starts to explore her personal style. You might not love her new fashion sense, but if it's appropriate, let it go. Your teen will appreciate the taste of freedom and appreciate you for giving it to her, which can strengthen your relationship.
Respect her opinions. You might not think that a co-ed sleepover after the school dance is appropriate, but your teen daughter surely does. Rather than just saying "no" and moving on, take time to listen to your daughter and allow her to voice her opinion. You still might end up saying "no" to her request, but your teen will at least feel like her voice was heard.
Plan a special day. Between school, extracurricular activities and social commitments, you might feel as though you never see your teen daughter. Once a month, set aside an open day for some quality time. Let your teen daughter choose the activity -- she might want to shop for a new outfit, go out to lunch or catch the latest romantic comedy. This one-on-one time will help you learn about your teen daughter's busy life and become closer to her as a result.
Find moments to talk, while keeping in mind she won't want to feel like she's being given the third degree, which doesn't take much for a teen. She might be in front of the laptop or smartphone when she's home from school, but everyday moments give you a chance to bond with your busy teen daughter. If you take or pick her up from school, ask about her day while you're driving. Request no smartphones at the dinner table so you can hear about what's going on in your teen's life.
Make matching friendship bracelets using colorful beads. Let your daughter choose the colors of beads to use, then make bracelets for each other, using those colors, in any pattern. You can cut out tiny charms related to your child's interests from a strong poster board and use thin craft wire for backing. If she loves horses, for example, you could make a horseshoe shaped charm. You and your daughter can also make bead necklaces for each other with a poster board charm that says "No. 1 Mom" or "Best Daughter." Make the one for your daughter while she makes the necklace for you.
Visit a ceramics art shop where you and your daughter can pick out a figurine that best represents the two of you to paint together. You can also each pick out a figurine for the other and paint them. Another idea is to visit a pottery studio where the two of you can make something from scratch. Ideas include making a ceramic decorative plate that includes both of your names and a quote about mothers and daughters.
Pick up some fabric paint and get creative making mother and daughter T-shirts. You could write cute captions on the shirts, such as "Like Mother," on one and "Like Daughter," on the other. Another idea is to write "Queen," on yours and "Princess," on your daughter's. Your daughter could also write, "Best Mom," with an arrow underneath on your shirt, and you could write "Coolest Daughter," on hers. Decorate the T-shirts with hearts, smiley faces, flowers and anything else the two of you love, but use the same colors on both T-shirts.
Work on a painting together that you can frame and display in your home. One ideas is to trace each others head silhouettes on black paper and paste it onto white poster board so they are facing each other. You could write "Love" or another endearing word or phrase at the top. Another idea is to draw a line down the middle of a poster board and write "Mom is..." on one side at the top, and "Anna is.." or whatever your child's name is on the other side. Use magazines to find words that describe each other, such as "funny," "sweet," "caring" and "beautiful." Cut them out and paste them onto the poster board in the appropriate spot.