8 Ways to Get Your Teen to Talk to You

Spend quality time with your teen if you want her to talk to you.
Support your teens efforts and ideas if you want her to talk to you.. Kevin Dodge / Blend Images / Getty Images

Although most teens can’t seem to stop talking to their friends, many of them seem to have nothing to say when it comes to talking to their parents. One-word answers and closed bedroom doors leave many parents feeling shut out from their teen’s world.

If you're struggling to get your teen to talk to you, here are eight strategies that can get your teen to open up: 

1. Reflect What You Hear

When your teen talks to you, don’t jump in and automatically share your opinion.

Instead, reflect what you hear to make sure you fully understand what your child is trying to communicate. Say something like, "So what I hear you saying is, you think you should have a later curfew because your friends are allowed to stay out later. Is that correct?" Your teen will appreciate your willingness to listen.

2. Treat Your Teen Better than a Stranger

It may sound obvious; however, if you're like most people, there may be times that you treat those closest to you worse than other people. Sometimes, it's easier to be polite to complete strangers, and intolerant with family members. 

Commit to treating your teen with kindness and respect, even when you've had a bad day or when you're frustrated by your teen's actions. Showing empathy and understanding will help you gain trust and earn respect from your teen.

3. Validate Your Teen’s Feelings

Validating your teen’s feelings doesn’t mean you have to agree with your teen’s feelings.

For example, if your teen says she’s really upset about something, say, “I hear how frustrated you are.” Even if you don’t think the situation warrants a major reaction, make it clear that your teen’s feelings are OK.

4. Change Your Pattern of Communication

If your current attempts to communicate with your teen don’t seem to be working, do something different.

Continuing the same pattern of communication will only continue to yield the same results. Break the pattern and try something new to see if it encourages your teen to talk.

5. Listen More Than You Talk

Long lectures and repeated warnings aren't an effective way to get your teen to talk. In fact, the more you talk, the more your teen may shut you out. 

Put more energy into listening - rather than just talking - to your teen. Use active listening skills to show that you really want to develop an understanding of what your teen is trying to communicate.

6. Ask Questions that Help Your Teen Reach the Answer

Ask questions that encourage your teen to talk to you. Open-ended questions can be very effective conversation starters. It's important to avoid interrogating your teen, however. Approach your teen with with a sense of curiosity, and use a variety of questions to keep the conversation interesting.

7. Problem-Solve Together

Rather than tell your teen what to do, engage her in active problem-solving.

Whether she's struggling with school, or she's experiencing problems with friends, sit down and brainstorm solutions together. Praise her ideas and work together to examine the pros and cons of various solutions. Offering guidance while tackling problems together can encourage your teen to go to you for help.

8. Build Credibility

One common communication barrier is an age-old problem - teens think parents just don't understand. They assume parents can’t possibly relate to what they’re going through.

The solution to this problem is to build credibility with your teen. If your teen views you as credible, she'll be much more likely to trust your opinion and take your feedback seriously. 

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