How to Get Your Teen Talking: 9 Practical Tips, Talking Points & Questions


Are you a parent who’s having a hard time maintaining a stable communication with a teenage daughter/son? Do you feel that whenever you try to talk with them, they shut down and completely ignore you?

If so it’s more than likely that you feel there’s a need to improve the communication between you and your children.

Establishing good communication with your teen is possible- but it does require the right approach, patience, and respect.

Unfortunately, today, as Neil Osterweil, contributing writer to WebMD, award-winning writer, and co-owner of Osterweil & Baron Communications, Boston explains, parents and teens talk at and past one another rather than to or with one another.

This communicative gap is additionally worsened by the daily stress in life, age differences, etc.

The problem happens when parents do nothing to better the communication or think it will improve on its own.

Poor communication or lack of it can make the children believe that they’re unworthy, unheard or misunderstood, emphasize Kristin Zolten, M.A. & Nicholas Long, Ph.D., from the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

And, this child is more likely to think of their parents as ‘unhelpful’ and ‘untrustworthy’.

Parents need to be able to communicate openly and successfully with their children for their well-being, but for the benefit of every family member too. By watching you communicate, your children will develop good communication skills they’ll need in life.

The challenge is to put in a lot of effort to really hear and understand our children and show them respect and boost their self esteem. And, of course, we need to stay informed and learn more about how to transition through these communication gaps easy and effectively.

But, knowing the numerous challenges associated with adolescence, the improvement doesn’t come easy. Teens are known to be stubborn, easily irritated, and confused, which additionally impedes the communication.

This being said, it’s vital for parents to know the best methods for communication, as well as useful questions and talking points to focus on.

Learn more about these communication tools in this detailed guide.

Practical Tips for Positive Communication with Your Teen

     1. Start early

Before we can communicate with our children, both sides need to feel comfortable enough. This being said, start setting the stage while they’re still young to optimize the chances for open communication throughout adolescence.

To do this, be available for questions from your children and be there when they want to talk. Provide them with a lot of love, acceptance, and understanding to open up the road.

When a child feels accepted and loved by their parents, they’re more likely to share thoughts, emotions, and worries with their parents.

     2. Show, don’t just feel

Many parents struggle showing the acceptance they’re feeling for their children; however, this is vital.

You can achieve this in verbal and nonverbal ways. Use words that will show them you accept and support them and always remember to send them positive responses.

For example, if they’ve made their bed without you nagging them about it, tell them something like ‘I appreciate that you’ve made your bed without me having to “beg”.’

Everything you say to your child will send a message about your feelings about them. If you’re telling them ‘I can’t now’ or ‘I’m busy, leave me alone’, you may end up teaching them that their needs and emotions are less important.

In nonverbal terms, express your acceptance through gestures and facial expressions. Avoid yelling and ignorance- they’re rarely beneficial in the long run.

     3. Work on your listening skills

For humans, listening is a pivotal skill which we need to learn through practice. It’s definitely the key to a beneficial communication.

When you genuinely listen to your child without judgment or interference, you’re expressing your interest and care about how they feel or what they need.

To be a good listener, make sure you maintain eye contact at all times to show involvement and remove distractions like phones; computers- give them your full attention.

When listening, it’s important to just listen- talk as little as possible and show your encouragement through a smile or a touch. Otherwise, they may feel interrupted and forget what they wanted to express in the first place.

When they’re done, restate all of the said things, but maybe in a slightly different way to emphasize you’ve been listening and to clarify possible misunderstandings.

      4. Schedule periods for talking

If you have teens, it may be beneficial to have set times for talking, like family meetings. They can be done as often as you can/want/need. Use this time to discuss important happenings or set chores, bedtimes, curfews.