So, you are in the midst of holiday plans or maybe even the post-holiday blues and you have these teens who just don't seem to want to talk to you. And you have just gone through the trouble of trying to make this time of year so special for your kids. How dare they give you a hard time? How dare they serve you up some eye rolls with a hefty dose of one word answers to your innocuous questions? Well, I am here to tell you how to deal with these tricky teens and how to get them to be both chatty and happy about talking to you. Trust me on this one. I know teens. I work with them all the time. I listen to them. I've raised a very lively one.
So here goes:
1. Look at your own behavior. As a parent are you judgmental and critical? If so, your teens will never talk to you. Try to tone it down and spend more time listening than talking. They will love you for this. They may even reward you with some conversation and let you into their
lives a bit. This is the goal, right?
2. Smile at your teens. Use your sense of humor. Play with them a little. In other words, don't act scared of them. When they sense your fear they are less likely to talk. In other words act like you enjoy them. They will appreciate that you are not taking everything so seriously.
3. Keep your emotional level down when talking to your teens. Yes, you may want to panic or lose it but that will only cause them to stop talking. After all, who wants to talk to a parent who is perceived as freaking out and is unable to handle things? If you don't feel calm then fake it. Your goal after all is to keep your teens talking not to shut them down.
4. Be a little sneaky. Instead of asking direct questions like, "How was your day?" try something like, "Tell me about the drama." Teens prefer less direct conversation openers. So, you may want to try, "Would you recommend that movie?" rather than "How was your date?" If you keep listening your teens will eventually get to the information that you are really after like whether or not they had a good time and made good choices. Remember once they start talking try not to interrupt or lose your cool emotionally.
5. Refrain from offering advice. I know that you are just dying to make life easier for your kids. It's hard to remain quiet when you could offer them sound advice. Keep in mind that if you offer advice prematurely your teens may shut down. Sometimes they just want you to listen. They just want to vent and hear their thoughts out loud. If you are unsure if your teens want advice or not then how about simply asking them if they want your advice or if they just want you to listen? They will love that you are asking for their input.
Good luck. Your journey with your teens won't always go smoothly but it can certainly go better than anticipated.