how to get your teen to talk to you

You might not like this one! It's simple, but not easy.


Don't teach, don't judge, don't correct.

Don't interrupt, don't dismiss, don't diminish.

Don't try to fix anything, and please, don't freak out!

Sit down, maintain eye contact, pay close attention, and don't say a thing.

Wait until you think you will burst inside if you don't get to make your contribution, and then go ahead and say hmmm or uh-huh.

Listen with the intention of understanding her perspective, not changing it. Teens want to talk to their parents! What they don't want is to be lectured, corrected, shamed, or turned into fixer-upper projects. They want to be heard and understood. Nine times out of ten, after hearing themselves talk for a while, they will generate their own elegant solutions.

If she asks for your opinion, respond by asking what she's already considered. Ask about the pros and cons of each. Then and only then, when it's clear you have been invited and she has run out of things to say, share your opinion. Be sure to issue the disclaimer that it is indeed only your opinion.

Follow it up with an expression of confidence in her ability to work it out, and a loving reminder that you are standing by ready to assist if she wants your help.

Simple, but not easy! However, when you see how well this works, it becomes much easier to remember to do it.

If you get over-eager and jump into providing solutions, it's okay. We all do it! When you become aware of it, just take a deep breath, sit back a little in your chair, and quiet back down.

Teens are usually very forgiving, and will just pick up the ball and run with it again.

Listening in this way helps your child to perceive you as a resource, rather than an obstacle.

1 comment:

marci said...

Oh, I love this, Karen! I have said so many times before, 'my kids and I are very close... may it always be so'. So far, it still is. Sometimes I wonder if I land too far on the side of 'just' listening, when I hear those comments such as 'kids don't need you to be their friend, they need you to be their parent'. I believe I have had the extreme privilege of being both!