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Ways to Encourage Open Communication

Many parents find it difficult to reach or talk with their teenager(s). What happened to the sweet, adoring, and loving child I had when she/he was little?  It can be so frustrating. If they only knew of all the love and sacrifice you showed them over the years. During the teen years, many turn their attention toward outside relationships (boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, school, sports) or anything else, but you. Sometimes, it may even seem like they are trying to push you way…and they can be quite good at it. There are many ways to try and encourage open communication with your teenager. While he/she may not respond favorably right away, it’s worth the time, patience, and persistence. What do you have to lose?

While it seems easy, remember ask open-ended questions. These are questions that cannot easily be answered with yes or no. For instance, many ask their child(ren), “Did you have a good day at school?” This type of question can be quickly and easily answered with, “Yes” or “No”. Below are some examples or ways to rephrase how we talk with one another. Practice with your spouse, friend, or significant other! It’s much harder than we think, but with routine practice, it becomes more natural and automatic.

Ways to Phrase Questions

How have you been doing?

I know that a lot of people your age have a lot going on. What kinds of things have been on your mind or stressing you lately?

How have things been going with [school, friends, parents, sports]?

Tell me about those thoughts? When do they get worse? When do they get better?

How do you feel about your relationship with                                   ?

How was [school, camp, the movies with your friends, sports]?

What’s been going on?

Arianna Boddy