How can you get your teenager to really talk to you? It’s a simple question, but for many parents, the answer feels quite complicated. Many teenagers find it difficult to talk about their feelings with one another, let alone an adult, let alone one that’s an authority figure!
Let’s unpack some of the ways to build up a level of trust and comfort with your teenager so he or she will feel comfortable talking to you when it really matters.
Don’t Judge Them Even If You Don’t Always Approve
In theory, refraining from judgment sounds easy, but it’s a lot harder in practice; however, if you want your child to open up to you, it’s essential that you withhold judgment.
Here’s a quick example: Let’s say your daughter had sex. She regrets it and is afraid she didn’t use proper protection. She shares this information with you.
Now, it’s totally understandable that your initial reaction may be one of shock and horror, but if the first thing out of your mouth is, “How dare you?!” then she it’s going to take a long time before she’s ever comfortable sharing personal info with you again.
Do your best to focus on helping them through the situation. Be there for her because she needs you now more than ever. Now, that’s not the same as letting her get away with everything. You still need to have clear guidelines of what’s right and wrong, but your teenager needs to know that you’ll have their back no matter what.
Be Totally Honest About Yourself First Before You Expect Them To Be Fully Honest
You want total honesty from them, right? Well, the first step is to be a positive role model in that regard. Be honest with your teenager about what you think, what you’ve done, and the mistakes you’ve made.
By showing your child that you’re a human being too, it will help build a sense of trust. By putting yourself on a pedestal and not acknowledging your own mistakes, you’re unintentionally putting distance between you and your child.
Don’t Pry: Adopt A Casual, Conversational Tone
If you’re using an accusatory tone or always trying to pry into your teenager’s life, he or she isn’t likely to feel comfortable talking to you about personal things.
Keep your tone conversational and positive. Sure, you might not agree with certain opinions or their taste in music, but if you imply that you don’t approve, then you create a barrier to open conversation. Find the right kind of casual setting and keep things fun and conversational.