How to talk to your teen?

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Answered by: Fleurette, An Expert in the Talking to Your Teenager Category
The car is silent; the usual scenery passes by in a flurry. Your teenager beside you looks out of the window with a hollow expression. You hesitate, but finally hear yourself ask the age old but never quite effective "How was your day?" You wait a beat, and hear the anticipated "Ok..."

This scene you know almost by heart now and over the few years both you and your teen have played the roles well of passive ‘asker’ and ‘askee.’ But now you want more. You long for the days when your child talked to you freely about any and everything, even non-stop as you fondly remember. Those years seemed to have gone by in a flash and now you are left with a stoic of a child: someone who you’ve lost connection with, lost communication with. You wonder what could you say or do differently so as to talk to your teen comfortably, naturally.

Remember your teenager is still the loving child that needed and confided in you, only now bodily changes from within and new uncertainties surrounding them have affected their view of the world. They may be overly conscious about their appearance or anxious about current and future decisions they have to make in their lives. So try to understand what your teen is feeling, experiencing and up against. This is the first step to better communication: understanding and empathizing with your child’s worries and concerns.

There are however simple and proactive measures you can take to slowly revive the close bond you once had.


This may seem like a no brainer, but really listening can be harder than it seems. True listening means taking note of your adolescent’s tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. If your child does finally tell you of a particular problem, after patiently listening without interruption, don’t forget to sincerely thank them for confiding in you. If the information you received was startling or non important in your opinion, do not overreact or brush aside their comments. Instead, commend their courage and acknowledge their feelings. You should also be aware that teens tend to voice their most important thoughts and concerns when you least expect it and sometimes in a way not readily deciphered. For example if your child suddenly yells at his burnt toast exclaiming “Oh great, just typical!” It could be more than just teenage angst; multiple matters could be weighing on his mind. It is up to you to gently draw him out.

Ask the right questions

Questions can be tricky and the last thing you want is for your teen to feel like he is being interrogated. A good way to ask questions, especially about touchy subjects is to shift the focus away from your teen by asking how their classmates or friends feel about a certain topic. Then ask what advice he or she would give to that friend. Resist the urge to lecture. Don’t assume that just because peer pressure is powerful, your child will inevitable succumb to it. Give your kid credit, approval and reassurance that he will make the right decisions. Sometimes not asking any questions at all can be refreshing. Instead of asking your teen how his day was, let him know how yours was. Talk about the things and people that you have to deal with on a daily basis. Do not overwhelm them but be open about some of the pressures you’ve experienced. By doing this, you let your child know that you also value them as a confidant.

Spend time together

Finding the right place and time to talk to your teen can be a challenge. Teenagers can sense “The Talk” coming from a mile away, and telling your child that you want to see them in the living room after dinner can create tremendous pressure and preconceived ideas of an oncoming lecture. To avoid a tense atmosphere try to spend time with your young one casually. Play a game together, go for a walk, work on a project or help them with a household chore. The occasions are endless. Find things that you know will interest your teen and do them together. You may even be surprised at how much fun you are having. Your child will not only feel more at ease in your company but will come to view you as approachable, someone who truly takes an interest in them. In time your son or daughter will open up to you willingly.

Remember, the key to these suggestions is perseverance and positivity. Do not expect your teenager to make a complete 360 in one week. As your child notices your constant sincere efforts, he will be more inclined and comfortable to share more of his thoughts and feelings with you.

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