Getting Teens to Open Up
Connecting with teens can be practically impossible. You and your teenager both have busy schedules, and even when you can find the time, it’s hard to get through to a closed off teen. On top of all that, it’s not always easy to know what to talk about, especially because half the time you ask them to open up to you, it ends in a full blown fight.
However, you don’t want your teenager to suffer the challenges of growing up in silence. You want them to feel like they can always come to you! To foster a strong bond with your teen, you might have to employ some new techniques. Here’s how you can carve out some to connect to your teen, what you can talk about with them when you’re sitting down together, and some techniques to handle talking about more serious subjects.
Creating Time For Connection
Even if you want to spend some quality time with your teen, it’s not easy to find a spare hour in the day. Luckily, you and your teen likely share some of the same routines–driving in the car, folding laundry, eating dinner around the table each night. These moments can be a great opportunity for small bits of connection. It’s a relaxing, natural space, and your teen will be more likely to communicate since they have their guard down.
Keeping the conversation light, funny, or inspirational will help kids feel more comfortable! If you try to use these moments to talk about something serious, your teen might feel trapped in your downtime session, and they won’t be likely to open up. Although it’s important to talk about the tough stuff, it can also be valuable to have casual, fun interactions with your teen that show them you’re not just a scary authority figure.
Oftentimes, if you don’t make distinct plans to hang out with your teen, it might just not make the schedule! The two of you both probably have a lot on your plate, so it can be helpful to pencil in some regular traditions together. This ensures that this quality time stays on the radar. This could be a daily tradition, like eating breakfast together, or a weekly get together like bowling on Sunday nights. It could even happen monthly, with the two of you going out to eat at a favorite restaurant.
Finding Common Ground
Let’s say you and your teen decide to get coffee together once a week. You guys schedule in time, make it to the coffee shop, but then…..you seem to be stuck with awkward silence. Your mind is on work, maybe sports, or what bill is due on Friday, while they’re thinking about video games and whether or not they’ll make the debate team. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of common ground for both of you to talk about!
As a parent, it can be really valuable to get involved in your kid’s interests, so that you can relate to them on a deeper level. If you’re totally unfamiliar with that musician they really like
or clueless when it comes to that athlete they idolize, it might be hard to really get through to them. The more you can engage with your teen’s interests, the more you’ll be able to forge a strong bond with them.
If you can, spend a little time digging into their passions, reading reviews online and preparing thoughtful questions. That way, when you guys are hanging out, you’ll have a good jumping off point. A conversation about something as simple as Taylor Swift could turn into a more vulnerable one about what they might want to do with their life. Finding somewhere to start will give you the ability to go deeper and dole out some life advice. The two of you could even decide to read the same book, giving you a great place to begin a series of discussions.
Handling the Serious Stuff
When conversations go from light to heavy, it can be challenging to feel like you’re saying the right thing. You want to make your teen feel comfortable, and keep them from becoming closed off all over again! If they’re opening up about a bully at school or anxiety about the future, it can be so effective to say something as simple as, “Just know that I love and support you no matter what, and I’m here if you need anything.”
If you guys take the time to have a serious talk, sometimes you might find yourself discussing the difficulties in your relationship, or the ways you’ve hurt one another. While this kind of communication can be painful, it’s also so powerful! You might find that there’s a simple fix to whatever’s been driving a wedge between the two of you, or maybe you’ll discover that it’s actually time to set some new boundaries to ensure your relationship stays healthy. Taking your defenses down and sharing your true feelings can be challenging, but it’s worth doing.
In talking to your teen about more serious issues, you might realize that you can’t quite help your kid to the full extent. When young people are really struggling, it’s sometimes better to bring in a professional. Therapy can be a really transformative process and help your kid heal from serious anxiety, depression or trauma. It might not always be the easiest step to take, but it can change your teen’s life and make your entire family stronger.
Not so Hard After All
Even though it can seem impossible to get through to teens, there are ways you can get the ball rolling! It’s all about finding those key moments to connect, whether it’s before bed, on the way to school, or at your weekly tea party. You will always be there for your teen so it’s important to remind them how much you care, even when they think they can do just fine without you. You’ll likely find that your words mean more to them than you ever would have expected.