Understand that your teen is in a cross-over phase. They are becoming more social, interested in dating, creating friendships, having concerns about life and the world, etc. Your teen wants to talk to you but is unsure how to do it. So, they feel silence is best. You are the authority figure, and maybe due to past communication and situations, like not listening or lecturing, closed them off. Your blossoming child is turning into a small adult. So, communication needs to change or mums the word. However, you can change all that by knowing how to communicate and listen to your teen.
You were a teen once, so channeling your teenage mind is the best way to understand your teenager. Follow these tips to help spark up some nostalgia to help you talk to your teen and get them talking.
Tips on Getting Them to Talk
1. If your teen does not want to talk, force is not the answer. Understanding why is your best bet. Don’t ignore them because they won’t talk to you. You have to keep engaging and trying, not pushing. For example, do an activity they enjoy doing, like going to the batting cages. This helps them relax and have fun. Anytime you infuse fun, people become excited and more talkative. This exercise creates the energy that allows your teen to gain your trust. The more fun, the more they talk, the more they trust, and they will open up.
2. Try to use humor. Watch or do something that makes your teen laugh. Laughter is another way to relax tension and talk.
3. Don’t show them how smart you are; show them how good you are at listening. Once they trust you as a listener, it is a step in the right direction to talk with reciprocation and give them advice. Although it is your child, they have to trust you first. Not that they don’t trust you, it is more about their personal feelings and emotions.
4. Talk about things they are interested in but not personal. Talking about personal situations will probably tune you out. Don’t worry about that. Your teen is trying to understand their feelings and emotions, and maybe they feel embarrassed about telling you. If you stick to your no holds bar plan, they will eventually tell you little bits more and more each time.
5. You have to ask the right questions the correct way. Talk about topics they are interested in before talking about others and asking questions. That means you have to find an entry point or some common ground that allows you to cross into their world. Truthfully, if you remember what it is like to be a teenager, you will have more success.
How to Listen to Your Teen
Be Mentally Equal
There are times you need to be a parent and reprimand. There are times you need to be a friend. And, there are times you need to channel that teenager’s mind. This is where you strike the common ground. Teens are in a rebellious skin shedding phase, so you have to stoop, not just to conquer but to get them to open up and talk. Like a dog that smells fear, your teen smells authority, and you are the authority.
Don’t Be Judgmental
Teenagers don’t want to be judged. That is the reason they hide things from you. They don’t want you to be hard on them. As much as they are getting older in life, they still want you to think of them as innocent and cute. So, don’t be the judge and put your teen on the stand to defend and justify their actions and behaviors. This can make them aggressive and defensive.
Listen without Prejudice
Turn off and disable your knowledge for a moment and listen to their concerns and issues. This will help you avoid being biased. Don’t jump in when they are talking and get too excited. If you are always trying to talk over them, they will feel like, what’s the point? Instead, skip your pre-game opening speech and allow your teen to speak. Your teen likes to talk and wants to talk, but if you are not giving the right signals and signs, they will not.
All I can say is, easy tiger. Relax and listen. Remember not to react. Stay calm find solutions or reasoning to what needs to happen. Don’t ask reactive or blaming questions and take on their reactive tone. If you show you are relaxed about their tension or stress, they will follow your cues.
Change Your Approach
Maybe it is not your teen. Perhaps it is you. Are you hard on your child? Do you listen? Do you let them talk? Being hard, strict, and demanding all the time is not the way to go. Instead, try to finesse the situation. Of course, sometimes will require you to be stern. However, if you want your teen to chat with you and be open, they have to know you will listen and let them speak.
Ask in A Different Way
Asking specific questions will for sure get you the same answers or the silent treatment. So, get a game plan. For example, instead of asking how your day was, you could say, did you play well at practice? Then you can use that as a prelude to other questions and topics. If your teen says one-word answers to you like, it was good; try more detailed questions. For example, you could say, How’s the team looking for the game on Saturday? Don’t accept one-word answers; you will create a habit for your teen to respond this way all the time. Be creative.
Focus on the energy of the conversation. Like the story of the three bears, if you push too hard, your teen will disengage. If you push too little, they will not bother. But if you ask the right question the correct way, it will be just right. Understand you are the parent and trying to be a friend. That can be a bit confusing for your teen, so that is what happens with information. Your teen thinks they can say one thing but not another.
Here is a story that may help you deal with your teen better with communication. When I was little, my neighbor showed me how to give a peanut to a squirrel. Squirrels run away from people. But he said if you just sit and show the peanut to the squirrel, be patient and relaxed, and move really slow, the squirrel will feel that. The squirrel will come up to you and take it from your hand when you can do this. He said it is not just a physical thing. It is energetic too. And so, it is similar to your teen. It is not just a physical thing; it is an energetic thing they feel.
I mention this because you have to feel it and mean it and have good intentions, or your child will feel you are just collecting intel and back away.