How was your day? Fine. What did you do? Nothing. You did nothing all day? Yes. No. You know what I mean.
Is this what is sounds like when you try to get your teenagers to talk to you? How many times have you had this exact conversation? Sometimes getting your kids to engage in a conversation with you is like pulling teeth. They are guarding their secrets closely and the harder you try to get them to open up, the more they seem to shut down.
So what can you do to get your teenager to talk to you? How can you get them to let you inside their brain? Keep reading for some simple tips to help open the lines of communication between you and your kids.
Five Easy Ways To Get Your Teenagers To Talk To You
1. Try Asking Open Ended Questions
An open ended question prompts a conversation because it can’t be answered with a one word reply. It requires a response other than “yes” or “no” (or mumbling “yeah”, which is often the case with teenagers).
For example, instead of saying, “Did you have a good day at school?” say something along the lines of, “Tell me something good that happened during school today.” Most likely, your teenager will reply by saying, “Nothing good happened” but then you can probe a little further by asking follow up questions.
Try asking them about specific classes or activities. Eventually, one will spark their interest or they will want to share a funny story or juicy piece of gossip with you. Even if they just want to complain, at least they are trusting you enough to vent to you. Look at it as a small victory!
Asking open ended questions can be a difficult skill to learn and a slightly tortuous exercise with your teenager. Be prepared to hear the word “nothing” over and over again. Just remember, that eventually, you will break through to them. Once you get them to open up a few times, it becomes easier because it starts to become a routine for them to tell you about each part of their day.
2. Catch Them When They Can’t Escape
I mean, literally, can not escape from you. When you are driving in the car with them, it’s the perfect time to start a conversation and try to make your teenager talk to you. Short of throwing themselves into oncoming traffic, they have no other option but to talk to you.
Also, there is something about not having to look you in the eye that allows them to communicate a little more freely. You have to keep your eyes on the road so they are spared the parental looks. They can speak their minds to the side of your face, which seems safer to many teenagers.
Just make sure that they are not on their phones or listening to music with earphones in when you try to initiate the conversation. Make the car a “phone free” zone and consider the daily running around your special time to catch up with each other.
3. Engage Them In A Physical Activity
Have you ever seen the classrooms with the bouncy exercise balls for chairs? Do you know why they have them? Yes, they are super fun, but also because it engages one part of the kid’s brains, which opens up another part. Basically, it allows them to channel their physical energy and clears their minds.
The same can be true for your teenager. If you participate in a physical activity with them, their brain gets caught up in that and forgets to not talk to you. You will be amazed what they will say when they are focused on something else.
And don’t be scared; you don’t have to go rock climbing with them (although that could be fun if that’s what you are into). Something as simple as walking, bowling or kicking a soccer ball back and forth can be enough to get your teenager to talk to you.
4. Pay Attention When Your Teenagers Talk To You
Your teenager willingly talking to you happens about as often as a solar eclipse, so when it does occur, it’s imperative that you acknowledge it. Put down your phone, turn off the television and pay attention to what they are saying. Try to remember every detail that they give you and act interested in their stories and anecdotes.
Nothing will make your teenager shut down faster than having you brush them off when they try to talk to you. Yes, sometimes it happens at an inconvenient time, but please try to make the best of it. Rejoice and take advantage of the fact that they are talking to you of their own free will.
If your teenager came to you to discuss something, then it must be important or they felt like they really wanted to share the news. Don’t waste the opportunity because you may regret it later.
5. Try A New Method of Communication
Let’s face it, not all people like to talk in person, particularly teenagers. Have you ever thought about reaching out to your teens in a different way? I know it is unconventional, but you could try texting or emailing them. A quick text to say “have a good day” or “I love you” might get through to them better than saying it out loud as they run out the door to school.
Or catch them in a group setting, like with other members of your family or your teen’s friends, and see if the conversation flows better. Some kids seem to “turn on” when there is a bigger audience.
Talking to a teenager can be a little like learning a new language, but with time, some practice and a few creative methods to get them to open up, it will become easier and clearer.
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