“How was practice?”
“How’d your day go?”
“Would you like
something to eat?”
“No. I’m fine.”
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: