It’s no secret.
Communicating with teens is no picnic. And the effort is generally one-sided. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t achievable, and it certainly doesn’t negate the fact that it is critical to your teen’s emotional health.
With eye rolls, shrugs, or blank stares, it can become tempting to avoid conversation altogether. After all, that is what your teen seems to want. But the truth is—it isn’t what they want.
They want and need to talk to you.
No matter what has happened in the past, the ball is in your court. It’s always in your court. As a parent, the burden of keeping your relationship with your teen healthy is and always will be on you. And it’s okay. You’ve got this!
Here, we’re offering 10 simple ways to get your teen talking that you can try this week!
As you know by now, teen moods can be unpredictable. So you never know when they’ll want to talk. That’s why it is so vital that you create those moments of availability they can step into when they’re ready.
To get your teen talking, begin by making yourself available. When your teen is around or wants to talk, unplug. Turn off the TV, put down your phone, ignore texts, take out the earbuds, and turn off the music. Show your teen they are more important than anything else you have going on.
2. Keep Your Emotions in Check
When a subject arises that may put emotions at the forefront, remember that your teen is dealing with hormones, insecurities, and an undeveloped way of thinking that makes it more difficult for them to control their emotions than it will be for you.
Even if your teen is being irrational or unreasonable, keep your emotions in check. Listen more than you talk. Sit eye to eye, rather than standing over them, and be approachable. Even when your teen says harsh or critical things, respond without anger or defensiveness.
Don’t allow disrespect but make sharing thoughts and feelings with you safe. That will get your teen talking.
3. Set Aside Some Time
If opportunities don’t naturally arise to get your teen talking, you may need to set aside some time. If your teen avoids conversation, while you want to respect their space and feelings, refusing to talk to you as a parent is not one of the options.
If your teen doesn’t want to talk at the moment you select, then allow them to choose a time, reminding them that not choosing one is not on the table.
4. Ask Permission to Give Advice
Sometimes it can be tempting to give advice on all types of subjects. When it comes to your teen, ask permission to give advice. In doing so, you are showing respect, taking down walls, and putting down defensive responses simultaneously.
5. Ask Open-Ended Questions
When you ask yes or no questions, a yes or no is probably all you’ll get!
Instead, fuel more meaningful conversation by asking open-ended questions. But not too many! It’s a simple tip but you must walk a delicate line. When teens feel like they’re in a job interview setting, they retreat.
For help getting the discussion going, check out our NEW Teen Talk Conversation Cards!
6. Speak in Private
Teens feel most safe speaking in a private place where they can’t be overheard or judged. Many of them feel most safe in their bedrooms.
To get your teen talking, it’s a simple switch in thinking. Make it a point to pop into your teen’s room occasionally just to say hello. They may talk, or they may ignore you, but showing you care enough to swing by their haven will mean the world. If you don’t get a warm reception, don’t give up! Next time may be different.
While you’re there, take the time to share something from your own life. Be vulnerable. Then, ask an open-ended question. “What do you think we should do for Christmas break?” or “I’m taking requests for dinner this week. Anything special you’d like?”
If the mood seems right, you can use this time of privacy to go deeper. “It seems like something is bothering you. I want to be a good listener if you ever want to talk.”
7. Create Opportunity
Sometimes you have to set the tone for a good conversation with your son or daughter and get your teen talking. Teenagers feel vulnerable, but if you make them a priority, walls start to come down.
You can create opportunities for conversations by investing a little bit of time. Here are some ideas:
- Invite your teen out to lunch or coffee
- Offer to take your teen to shop for a new outfit or article of clothing
- Take time to chat during the outing
- Ask about your teen’s hopes and dreams—don’t critique—just listen
8. Show Interest in Their Interests
Teen interests often don’t overlap with adult interests, but if you can take the simple step of showing interest in their interests, you will open the line of communication.
So pay attention to what your teen is into, then show interest. Ask questions, laugh at videos, or buy something as a gift that’s related to their interest.
Even better, try to find a common interest. Pickleball, for example, is suddenly the hot new teen trend. And this used to be for the 55 and over group! Buy pickleball equipment, find a court, and invite your teen to play.
9. Have Dinner Together
Studies show teens who eat dinner regularly with their families have better grades, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression, sexual activity, drug use, and other harmful behavior. Teens who eat with their families five or more times each week also report feeling closer to their parents than other teens.
If you want to get your teen talking, have dinner together! A teen’s life is filled with increasing stress, isolation, cancel culture, and various challenging moments in school and among peer groups.
Frequent family dinners improve both physical and mental health. And they make for a safe, calming atmosphere for positive family conversations.
10. Be Encouraging
You can get your teen talking when they can count on you to be encouraging. If they anticipate criticism over the state of their bedroom or their grades every time you talk, they’ll shut down. Determine to be encouraging in your conversation. There is so much negativity in the world—you may be the only encouraging word they receive in a day. Find more ways to encourage your teen HERE.
No matter what happens, don’t ever give up on your teen. Keep those lines of communication open and stay available. You can get your teen talking! Try these simple (but not always easy) tips and remember…. never, never, never give up! Your effort speaks volumes to your teen about how valuable they are in your life.