22. How do I get my teenage son to join in family activities?

As part of our ‘Ask a Psychologist‘ series we invited questions from parents and carers.



Here we explore something a lot of parents of teenagers ask:

How do I get my teenage son to join in family activities?
Mine just wants to stay in his room for everything apart from coming down for food!
Really getting to me as I’m all about family and having fun or watching movies or going for a walk etc
He’s a good lad all round . Sports . School. Friends etc but I feel like he’d rather do anything else with anyone else than with me and his sister .
(Single mom of 2 . Boy 15 and girl 11)
Dad and I co-parenting and friendly
Is it a teenager thing or a boy thing ? Or a mom /son thing ?
Thank you for any input!

Sharing Parenting:
This is a really good question (and a really common one from parents of teenagers).

As you know the job of a parent is constantly changing, just as you think you’ve mastered one ‘stage’ they move in to another.

Parenting a teenager is no different and these changes can feel surprising (and at times hurtful to parents).

The good news is, what you are feeling, and your son’s behaviour is very normal.

The reason is because of major brain changes and hormones flooding the body.

During puberty the brain takes on a ‘repruning’ as it prepares to become an adult.

These changes are exhausting and hard work for your teenager so it important to accept and support them during this time.

Some of the changes you may notice include:
– Wanting to spend more time in their rooms or alone
– Wanting to spend more time with their friends and peer groups (either face to face or virtually)
– Eating more
– Sleeping more in the mornings (the hormone that makes us sleepy comes a bit later in teenagers which means they often are wide awake at the time you want them to go to bed!)
– Being forgetful or less organised than usual
– Communicating less (often they may grunt an answer)
– Not wanting eye contact (you may have a better conversation when you are doing something together such as when you are in the car or walking etc.)
– Mood swings (toddlers and teens behaviours can be very similar at times).

Of course they may not be like this all the time and you will see ongoing changes of the ‘teenager them’ and the one you recognise.

Even with all this going on it is really important to try to keep the communication open with your teenager and remind them how much you love them and enjoy being with them.

You can do this by:
– Empathising about the changing brain (try to remember your own teenage feelings).
– Accepting that they are trying their best and maybe struggling with changes too.
– Help them to feel sleepy by encouraging them to turn off screens at least 2 hours before bed and lowering the lights.
– Planning a time they will do something with you (watch a film together, cook a meal together or bake a cake/cookies, play a board game, go for a walk, go out in the car etc).
– Look at what your teenager does enjoy and engage in – and try and build on these however small.
– The most important thing is to try stay friendly and know this phase will pass.

– A teenagers body clock changes and often they sleep more and are awake later at night …. so when you plan activities that include your teen this may need to be remembered.

We cover this and lots more on our Raising Teens course which we have coming up on Zoom too. Please let us know if you would like to book your free place.

If you have a question please do contact us.

You can find lots of useful information on our other news pages too.