Some parents think that they need a shovel, pitchfork and a blowtorch to get their preteens or teens to open up. Many teens appear to be a closed book but if you carefully pull back the book cover, you will find so many colorful pages that are willing to be read. It is very important to encourage your teens to open up and talk about their life and experiences as much as possible. Talking to your teen and knowing what is going on with them and around them is one of the best ways to connect with them and protect them from danger.
Here are a few tips to help your teen open up:
Find common ground. What is it that you and your teen are both interested in? What does your teen like to do that you too can participate in? It’s easier to encourage your teen to open up and talk about things when they are doing something that they enjoy. Walking in and interrogating your teen will most likely result in them shutting down and or putting their guards up. Take your teen out to a movie, lunch, skating or perhaps a walk or a jog in the park.
Be open to what they say. When you get your teen talking, don’t be surprised if they say some things you don’t like and/or use words that you aren’t familiar with. Just focus on being open to what they’re telling you and do your best to set judgment aside. Of, course if you hear something that is dangerous, be sure to speak up and talk to your teen but if your teen is simply explaining how they see the world, take a moment to listen and take it all in. You can always tell your teen that you don’t approve of something without attacking them. If they feel comfortable talking about serious things, they’ll be more likely to come to you if they have a problem.
Spend more together. Believe it or not, your teen does want to spent time with you. There have been many studies conducted that show that many teens rate not having enough time with their parents as one of their top concerns. With the busy life that most parents lead, some teens feel as if they can’t talk to their parents because they’re always at work or busy doing something else. It is important to schedule in time with your teens as often as possible.
Here are some suggestions for spending extra time with your teen:
- Have dinner at the table with the whole family as often as possible – this really works wonders to opening up the line of communication, you can simply as your teen about their day or talk about your day and ask them questions.
- Work out or engage in a sport with your kids – this is a great way to interact with your child in a physical manner and also find something that you both like to do.
- Drive your teen to school instead of sending them on the bus – if your schedule allows, why not drive your teen to or from school on a particular day during the week. It is amazing what a teen can talk about during a long or short drive.
- Set up a specific time every week to spend time with your teen – It could be to watch a favorite program, have a movie night, play a board came or a card game.
While your teen may be reluctant to talk to you at first, keep trying. Keep in mind that your teen does wants to open up but may be a little nervous about doing so. Using the tips outlined above, you will have your teen talking in no time and you will also have them looking forward to spending more time with you.
For more from our newest Mentor Mom, Aurelia Williams, visit her site at www.parentingmyteen.com.