Defiant Teens: 5 Tips to Start an Open Conversation

Parents are always curious about the life of their teenager. But if your teen doesn’t open up easily on their own, your attempts to get them to talk to you can start to feel like prying. Nobody wants to be that nosy parent, but you do need to be able to talk about important things with your teen. Here are a few ways to warm them up to talking about the tough stuff.

Start With Small Talk

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Take advantage of time when your family is together — family dinners, car rides — to get a conversation going, about anything! Just getting your teen talking is a great place to start, even if it’s about what’s on the radio.

Don’t Ask Too Many Questions

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If you have a long list of questions to ask your teen, it can feel less like a conversation and more like an interrogation. Even easy questions like “What did you do with your friends today?” and “Do you like your math class?” can seem imposing if they come in quick succession. Answers don’t always need a follow-up. You can just listen and wait to see if they’ll share more.

Keep Calm

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If you need to address a bigger issue that your teen may not want to talk about, begin speaking in a soft, but confident tone. Set boundaries so that it’s clear you want to have a mature and respectful discussion with them.

Pay Attention to Body Language

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Assume a relaxed and open position. Uncross your arms and legs. Maintain eye contact with your teen. If you look relaxed, they’re more likely to feel at ease.

Be Direct

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You don’t need a guilt trip to reinforce your point. Making your teen feel bad will only give them negative associations with the issue, and could make them even more reluctant to talk to you. Be straightforward about what you need from your teen and explain why you need it. Answer any questions they have. If they understand the rationale behind the request, they’re more likely to respect it and you.

It’s difficult to have these conversations, but knowing that you can discuss things with each other openly and respectfully will make your family bond even stronger.

Feature image: Patryk Sobczak