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8 Ways to Get Your Teen To Talk To You

Every good conversation starts with good listening. Next time your teen wants to talk to you, seize the opportunity with these listening skills!

Here are 8 ways to listen that increase the likelihood that your teen wants to talk to you.

  1. Be present in the moment
  • Offer support through your presence.
  • Stop what you are doing.
  • Listen intently.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Avoid distractions, especially from your phone, TV, or computer.
  1. Monitor your emotions
  • Notice how you are feeling (angry, scared, sad, tender, happy…).
  • Set your own emotions aside.
  • Stay calm.
  • Breathe.
  • If heated, take a break. Let them know you will return to the conversation when you calm down.
  1. Listen with non-verbal behavior
  • Give affirmative head nods.
  • Lean in.
  • Listen patiently and with interest.
  • Be careful of facial expressions that could shut them down.
  1. Reflective listen
  • Watch their facial expressions. Does it match what they are saying?
  • Reflect back their feelings – “I hear you’re angry”. “You seem sad.”
  • Repeat their words as closely as you can.
  • Clarify if you are not sure you understood what they said.
  • Don’t put words in their mouth.
  • KISS: Keep it short and simple.
  • “Hmmm. I hear that you are upset that you got in an argument with…”
  • “You are not sure you want to be friends with them. You are not sure what to do.”
  • “If I understand correctly, you think, that…”
  1. Use empathy and validate their emotions
  • Convey that you care.
  • Affirm that you hear them and understand.
  • Set your opinions and feelings aside.
  • Accept their feelings.
  • Don’t view their feelings as right or wrong.
  • Show acceptance.
  • Don’t judge.
  • Don’t tell them to be grateful or use phrases such as, “at least.”
  1. Listen with respect
  • Validate they are important to you.
  • Convey that what they have to say matters.
  • Affirm that they have value.
  • Accept what they are saying.
  • Hold them with positive regard.
  • Trust they can figure out solutions to their problems.
  • Encourage them.
  • Don’t put them down or use sarcasm.
  1. Ask open-ended questions
  • What happened after that?
  • Who was there?
  • What did you do?
  • How did that work?
  1. Don’t offer unsolicited advice
  • Surrender your agenda.
  • Don’t act like you have the right answer.
  • Avoid interrupting.
  • Don’t act like a know it all.
  • Don’t assume you understand what they are talking about.

Questions: What do you find most helpful on this list? What are some strategies you use to get your teen to talk to you?