This post: 10 Things Teenagers Love – Even if They Don’t Admit It / Updated May 2023
When our kids were little, they were so easy to please. A bottle of bubbles, a snuggle before a nap, an afternoon at the park or reading their favorite book before bedtime filled their bucket of happiness and love to the brim.
Now that they’re teenagers, it’s suddenly become a lot more difficult. We can’t move in for a hug the way we used to, they’re not as interested in spending time with us and they seem more determined than ever to show us just how independent they are.
But, the one thing I know for sure about teenagers is that underneath that cloak of “back off, I’ve got this” independence lies a child who secretly craves a whole lot of tender loving care – even if they’d never admit it.
The bottom line is, don’t let them fool you.
Sure, teenagers can be fickle, but if you think about things they (secretly) love, they can actually be fairly easy to please.
Here are 10 things Teenagers Love – Even if They Don’t Admit it
#1 Small Surprises
Since the time my kids were toddlers, I’ve always made it a point to surprise them every once in a while. Nothing too extravagant or expensive – just small things I tuck in their backpack, put on their dresser or leave on the dashboard in the car to let them know I’m thinking of them and love them. Truth be known, I’m a self-professed “surprisaholic.” And, my kids love it!
The next time you’re out and about, pick your teen up a small surprise like their favorite candy bar, a pair of cozy socks or a book they might like. You can also do things to surprise them – leave a hand-written note, inspirational quote or bible verse on their pillow or give them a backrub after a long day. You’ll be amazed how it brightens their day (and how it improves your relationship).
#2 Food, Food and More Food
Of all the things teenagers love, nothing compares to a well-stocked fridge. (Seriously, teenagers are always either eating food, making food, asking about food, complaining there isn’t any food or going through a drive-thru to get food – it’s always about food!) But when we go the extra mile and actually prepare food for them, that’s when the appreciation really kicks in (even if they act like they don’t care).
Surprise your teen by having their favorite snack waiting for them when they get home from school, make them breakfast in bed (for no reason at all), make their favorite dinner or whip up a cool new appetizer when they’re snuggled in watching a movie. Food is one of the love languages of teenagers!
Looking for after-school snack ideas? Here are a few your teen might like!
#3 Welcoming Their Friends into Your Home
Having a houseful of teenagers isn’t for the faint of heart. They’re loud, messy and they have a tendency to eat you out of house and home. But our kids’ friends are their lives.
When we welcome our kids’ friends into our home, when we accept them, get to know them and even spring for a few pizzas, we’re not only opening our hearts to them, we’re opening our hearts to our kids. Plus, we’re strengthening our relationship with our kids by showing them we care about them and their friends.
#4 Being Their Biggest Cheerleader
You’ve spent countless hours on bleachers, in stadiums, at tournaments, practices, rehearsals and games. You’ve shown up when it’s been easy and when it’s been hard. You’ve show up on their good days, their bad days and every day in between. You’ve always been their biggest cheerleader. And, sometimes, it feels as though your teen hardly notices or even cares.
Oh… but they do. Don’t give up on this one, parents. They’re noticing, they care, they love it and they’ll never forget it. Not only are you showing them that you’re a steadfast presence in their lives that they can always count on, you’re teaching them how to be a parent one day.
#5 Respecting Their Need for Space
There was a time you and your child did everything together – you hung out, ran errands together, played games and watched television together. Now that they’re teenagers, the “rules of engagement” have changed. Suddenly, they’re not quite as eager to share their world with you and they’re craving more space, privacy and alone time.
Our teens may not say how much they love it, but when we back off a bit, don’t take their need for space personally and give them the alone time they crave, we’re giving them exactly what they need and want at this time in their lives and they do appreciate it. (Don’t worry parents, they’ll come around after they’ve had a little time to figure out a few things on their own.)
#6 When Life Isn’t Quite So Serious
When you’re a teenager, there’s plenty to be serious about. Keeping up with grades, extracurricular activities, a job, internship and family obligations, not to mention the pressure to make BIG decisions including which college to attend (should they decide to go to college) and future career plans. It’s a lot for our kids to be so mature and grown-up when deep down inside they still feel like a kid.
What teenagers really love is when we take the pressure off and remind them that life doesn’t have to be quite so serious. Encourage your son or daughter to spend time with their friends, get a little crazy, be silly and go on adventures. Life is stressful enough (and when they get to college and beyond, their lives will become even more challenging and stressful). Find small ways to give your teen that much-needed break from life’s responsibilities, stress and pressure.
#7 Your Advice
When I became a parent of teenagers I assumed (because that’s what I was told) that my opinion, ideas and advice wouldn’t matter as much anymore. I figured if my kids needed solid advice about friend drama, school or their love life, they’d turn to their friends instead of me. I was wrong! Most teenagers want and need to hear what their parents have to say.
Sure, your delivery has to be timed just right and you need to steer clear of lectures or nagging, but when your advice is presented with a healthy dose of love, empathy and compassion, your teen will not only listen to your advice, you’ll find they will oftentimes take your advice. (And, even if they don’t follow your advice, rest assured they’re listening.)
#8 Your (Undivided) Attention
Teenagers are notorious for acting like they don’t need us… until they do. Even if I’m tired, had a bad day or really not in the mood to talk, I try to give my kids my undivided attention when they’re in the mood to talk or hang out because I know they’re fleeting moments I don’t want to miss.
I know it’s hard after a long day and there might be times you need toothpicks to hold your eyelids open, but even if it’s only for a few moments, listen with all your heart. They’ll appreciate your time, attention and love far more than you know and one day, you’ll look back and hold those impromptu chats dear to your heart.
#9 Your Approval
Trust me on this one… nothing matters more to our kids than our approval. They need it, they yearn for it and they absolutely love it. They’re going through mounds of changes right now – both physically and mentally. They’re feeling self-conscious and a little unsure about who they are and who they’re becoming. This is a time in their lives when they need plenty of boosts to keep their self-esteem bucket full.
Tell them you’re proud of them when they do well on a test or that you’re happy with the way they handled a situation. Tell them they look handsome or pretty, that they’re a good friend or how grateful you are when they help around the house. They may act all cool and pretend they don’t need your praise or compliments, but your approval matters.
#10 When You Say “I Love You”
When it comes to things teenagers love, saying “I love you” tops the list. They may act uninterested or flippant when we say it. They might even act annoyed and say, “Okay… I knowww.” But, not only do they love it, they need to hear it. Say it often, say it every day, say it even if they’re tired of hearing it and even if they already know. Say it because they need the continual reminder that they’re loved, cherished and adored.