Every parent knows it can be a struggle to get your child to open up. There comes an age when everything you ask them is met with one answer: fine.

“How was practice?”


“How’d your day go?”


“Would you like
something to eat?”

“No. I’m fine.”

It can be exhausting to try to pull a little more out of your son or daughter. So what can you do? First of all, don’t give up! And don’t let them get away with it. “Fine” (or variations of it) doesn’t tell you how they’re really feeling. Use the suggestions below to try to get more from your kid.

Watch Your Tone

Teens have an uncanny ability to pick up on variations in vocal tones. Research even shows girls can hear a wider spectrum of emotional tone than boys can—and it grows as they age. So keep it genuine…because it will be tough for you to hide anything else!

Change It Up

How you word your questions can greatly affect the response. Instead of asking “How was your day?” try something like “What was the best part of your day?” That will force them to come up with something other than “fine” or “good.”

Offer Prompts

All of us have times when it’s hard to find the right words to express our emotions. That’s especially true for adolescents. Instead of watching them struggle or just give up, throw them a lifeline. By saying, “I noticed you were tired today,” or “That phone call seemed to frustrate you,” you may help your teen articulate what they’re feeling.

Avoid Tit for Tat

It’s super easy to throw sarcasm back at your child or return an eye roll with an eye roll. But that typically makes the situation worse. And you don’t want to be a model for bad behavior. So try to keep your reactions under control.

Normalize Their Feelings

As parents, we have the tendency to think our teens are being over-dramatic. But if we reflect back on our own experience, that’s probably how we felt at that age. And kids really ARE going through a lot. Do your best to validate their feelings as much as you can.

Change the Setting

People are more willing to share when they’re comfortable and not feeling interrogated. Take advantage of opportunities to have natural, open conversations with your teen. This could be while doing chores, driving or engaging in a hobby. If you find you aren’t having those moments, you made need to create time to do things together. But make sure it’s something fun for both of you.

Don’t (Always) Force It

There may be instances your teen just wants to be left alone. And you know what? That’s normal. It’s the same with adults. So at times, it’s important to give them some space. Not everything has to be a confrontation with you trying to force something out of them. You have to pick your battles, and that’s okay—as long as they don’t clam up all the time.

Wait & Listen

Sometimes being a parent is a matter of being patient. It could be that your teen will reveal more about what’s inside, it just has to be on their schedule. Make sure you’re there when they’re ready. And when they do start speaking, listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t offer advice right away. Just hear what’s in their heart.

Material adapted from:

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