Talking to your teenager sometimes feels like an impossible task. Maybe you don’t feel like you have enough time, much in common, or they won’t give more than one word answers.
But it is so important! Your young person needs you more than ever in their teenage years to provide guidance, support, and even just a little conversation.
On top of that, studies show that young people are looking for advice on how to have healthy relationships. Why not let them learn from you, rather than just from the media and their peers?
Starting that is tricky, so we’ve compiled our top 3 tips on how to connect with your teen below, so keep reading!
It Starts with YOU
Young people are very observant. Your teen is not going to want to talk to you if they don’t admire how you relate to people or think you’re interested in them.
How are your relationships going? Are you showing up, being present, being interested?
Once you’ve reflected on how you’re going, it’s time for you to show up. Make the first move. Be present with your young person, spend time with them doing something they love. Put your phone away and embrace the silence while it’s there. And hopefully after they know you’ve got something good to add and they can see you’re interested, well, they just might start filling that silence.
It’s so hard not to point out the things your young person isn’t getting right yet, especially when they’re so obvious to you. Your young person is on a journey of learning and discovery, and they want you to be there supporting them, rather than pointing out where they’re getting it wrong.
You have an opportunity to be their biggest cheerleader! Point out their strengths, celebrate their successes, and dream big alongside them.
It’s way easier to do something you’re being encouraged in, than to do something you’ve been told off about. So even if they’re not being very communicative, celebrate the small times that they are.
Ask the Right Questions
“How was your day?” “Good.”
We’re sure you’ve been in this one before.
A good question leads to a good response. So if we want better responses…. we need to ask better questions!
Ask a closed question to get a conversation rolling, then open up the conversation and let your young person guide it. Listen without judgment.
Don’t be afraid to share yourself, and to ask those more uncomfortable questions. If we shy away from difficult or awkward topics, we demonstrate to teenagers that there is shame in discussing those topics and that they can’t or shouldn’t talk about those things. So embrace the discomfort and open a conversation. Ask a question about their feelings, friendships or family, then quietly wait and listen. And be open to share about failures as well as successes. They can generate so much insight.
Starting this conversations might seem simple, but we both know it isn’t easy. Working with tens of thousands of teenagers across Australia and New Zealand has given us a bit of an insight into having these conversations and we wanted to make what we have learned accessible to you. We’ve compiled everything we’ve figured out into a list of 20 questions that can help to create some of those more meaningful conversations with your young person.
If you’d like to use them, click here to download our FREE 20 questions to Deepen your Relationship with your Young Person resource.