It’s not always easy to have a meaningful conversation with a teen. But here are questions you can ask your teen to help you connect with them and stay involved in their life while still giving them freedom.
As your child enters his or her adolescent years, you may notice that conversation takes on the character of a roller coaster rather than a picnic. That time when they told you stories about slime and pokemon has come to an end.
You will now be met with more eye rolling and attitude than excitement to talk. That doesn’t mean that your teen doesn’t want to connect with you despite the fact that he or she is experiencing some of the more unpleasant aspects of adolescence.
Timing and approach are critical when it comes to teenagers spilling their guts, because they’re always looking for the right moment.
When life throws a curveball at adolescents, they’re more likely to keep their feelings to themselves than any other age group. Many mental health experts advise parents to ask directly about their teen’s well-being rather than avoiding the subject, which can irritate or annoy your teen. Teenagers, in particular, are looking for open dialogue. So don’t be afraid to simply ask, “How are you feeling?” or “I’ve noticed you seem down or depressed lately, want to talk about it? “
Here are some more tips from our experts to help you and your teen navigate the murky waters of communication.
Know the cues.
Try to pick up on the tiny signals that your kid is open to a conversation rather than when you’re more likely to be shut out. It may take some detective work. You may notice your teen ‘testing the water’ by talking about minor issues in their life. This is a way for them to see how you respond. For parents, this is a great starting point.
Assure an atmosphere of non-judgment.
Refrain from freaking out at the tiniest tidbits of news or life events if you want your teen to open up to you. In order for your teen to trust you, you must provide a judgment-free environment for him or her to thrive. When in doubt, ask questions to learn more about the situation and, more importantly, what your teen thinks about it, rather than rushing to judgment
Listen with your ears open.
Don’t be dismissive when talking to teenagers, but don’t be overly eager either. All of us have been there. Encourage your adolescent to divulge personal information by practicing active listening skills. As a parent, it is critical to pay attention to what a teen is saying and then repeat it back to them.
The more you can figure out what your adolescent is really saying, even when they seem to be grumbling or being cranky, the more likely they are to open up and develop the emotional vocabulary they need to express themselves.
Don’t look into someone’s eyes.
You can become a #teenparentsuperstar with a little practice. Because kids tend to avoid eye contact when discussing topics that are difficult for them to communicate with, provide an environment where they can do so. The best time to use your teen’s cue to make eye contact is when you aren’t able to return it yourself.
Using an example, if you’re driving, your teen can look out the window and chat with you. Alternately, go for a walk together so you can both focus on the road ahead instead of staring at each other. Holding this space for teenagers can help them engage and open up about what’s going on in their lives and what they’re feeling.
Questions for Your Teenage Child
What do you say to keep the conversation going once you’ve established a healthy but safe rapport with your teen? Using the questions listed below, you can get and keep your teen talking.
What part of the world would you choose to call home if you could?
Is TikTok still your go-to app, or have you moved on to something else?
- What would your dream day look like?
- That friend (in particular) has been absent from your recent social calendar, as I’ve noticed. What’s going on with him/her right now?
- What do you think about (a current-event news story)?
- You’d be President, so what would you do?
- What do you dread the most?
- What’s your go-to beauty or grooming item?
- How would you describe my parenting style?
- Make a list of things that make you feel truly content.
- How do you recommend I spend my time in the future?
- The thing that lifts your spirits when you’re having a bad day is…
- Is it difficult for you to say no to a request from a friend?
- In which course are you most interested?
- What is your all-time favorite piece of music?
- What are some of your happiest childhood memories?
- Imagine not being able to have (something they value) any longer. What would you do?
- Which do you prefer, living in the city or outside the boonies? Why?
- What do you think I like most about you, and why?