3 ways to help get your teen to open up
A psychologist shares how to encourage your teen to share what’s on their mind.
It's not always easy to get teens to share their feelings. Dr. Lisa Damour, psychologist, mother and best-selling author, shares three tips that can help make a big difference.
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“3 ways to help get your teen to open up”
It's not always easy to get teens to share their feelings. But there are three things adults can do that make a big difference.
1. Focus your questions
Instead of asking teens: “How was school or What did you do today?”, try asking more focused questions such as “What was the best or hardest part of your day?” or “How are you liking the book you're reading for class?”.
Teenagers are more likely to open up if we steer clear of broad topics in favour of more specific subjects.
2. Work with their terms
Teens can be more likely to share what's on their minds under conditions that help them to feel comfortable.
Some teens talk most freely when the conversation isn't face to face, such as when out on a walk or riding along in the car. Other teens open up when they know the conversation won't last too long, such as when they'll soon be headed out the door or are on their way to bed.
It's important that we capitalize on these opportunities to connect with our teens and honour their terms of engagement.
3. Be present without an agenda
Teens really appreciate it when adults provide their “agendaless" presence. When we are around but aren't asking the teenager to do something or asking a lot of questions.
Set aside and protect unstructured time to be with your teen. Just being together is an important way that we connect with our teenagers, and it's often in the quiet times that teens feel most inclined to share what's close to their hearts.
Dr. Lisa Damour is a psychologist, author, New York Times contributor and mother of two.