Tips for Starting Conversations With Teenagers
By Randi Morse
Have you ever heard the phrase, "Like talking to a brick wall?" That's exactly what trying to talk to a teenager feels like. In general, teenagers don't like talking to adults. They are dealing with so many issues and they often worry that parents are going to bring more drama and stress into their lives. But there are some serious discussions that teenagers need to be a part of. Here are three ways to handle uncomfortable discussions with your teenager.
Talk About Something Else
Instead of getting right down to the matter at hand, start simply by having a conversation. Ask your teenager how their day has been going, ask what they're studying in school, which teachers they like and which teachers they have problems with. Talk about your favorite TV show; this is especially great if you can find a television show that you both enjoy watching together. If you start out a conversation with your teenager discussing an uncomfortable topic, they may close themselves off to any other part of the conversation. If instead you choose to talk about a neutral object, you have then engaged your teenager in a dialogue. Starting the conversation is almost always the most difficult part, and by engaging your teenager with something mundane you are opening the doors of communication.
Get Them in the Right Spot
Having the right location is always important, this is also true when it comes to difficult conversations. If you're going to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation with your teenager, make sure you do it in the right place. It's a good idea to stay away from the bedroom as this should be your teenager's sanctuary. The kitchen table is a great place to start an uncomfortable conversation. It is neutral ground and allows for everyone to be comfortable while you talk. If your teenager is especially hard to pin down, try having the conversation while you're in the car together. It's awfully hard to avoid a conversation when you're driving down the freeway.
Something about the cover of darkness is freeing. When you're in the darkness you're able to be more vulnerable than you usually would be. Try having a conversation with your teenager during the nighttime. At this time of day your teen should be done with any homework they have and will likely be done with social plans. Offer to make a snack then just sit and talk.
Having uncomfortable conversations is never easy, but as a parent it's something we often must do. If you take your time, engage your child in the right way at the beginning of the conversation, and find somewhere comfortable to talk, what started as an uncomfortable conversation may become an amazing one.
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