Tips For Talking To And Building Trust With Your Teenager

Let’s face it, most teenagers are not open books and tend not to openly share their problems with their parents.  They may appear closed off and quiet.  Or, it may appear as though they are hiding something.  You may get the eye rolls when you ask, “is everything okay?”  or, “why don’t you want to talk to me?”  All of these are common responses that teens give to their parents.  You may feel as though you’re doing something wrong and that’s why they don’t want to talk to you.  I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case.  The first step in effectively talking to your teenager is to not take it personally.  If you can do that, the rest is simple.  And I’m here to give you some effective tricks and tips to communicate productively with your teenager.

1.) Don’t Pressure Your Teen Into Talking

First things first, make sure you don’t pressure your teen into talking with you.  If you make them feel like they HAVE to talk to you about things, the more likely they will keep things from you.  For instance, telling your teen that they need to open up more and not keep things from you.  Doing this will most likely end in a teen regressing and keeping even more from you.  The best thing you can do for your teen is to keep things open with them.  Suggest, “anytime you need to talk to me about something, I’m here for you.”  Keep it open and don’t push the reminder too much.  They will remember this statement when they do in fact have an issue that they feel they can’t solve on their own accord.

2.) Use Random Times To Talk

Rather than requiring your teenager to talk at the dinner table or having a designated time, just use random times and opportunities to talk.  For instance, while driving in the car to soccer practice or if you’re watching a movie together on the couch.  Sometimes, it’s the random moments that can cause a thought to occur and it may get your teenager talking.   When these moments occur, don’t rush your teenager.  Take the moment and enjoy the time that they are choosing to talk to you.  If a teenager talks to you during these times, it’s usually because they are in a place of content and they feel comfortable.  Make sure you don’t push the moment away.

3.) Respect Your Teens Privacy

Unless you’re living under a rock, it’s safe to assume that your teenager probably has a cell phone.  If they do, prior to getting the phone for your teenager make sure you make it known that you will respect their privacy with it.  Let them know that you are giving them the cell phone because you trust them and you believe they will be responsible with it.  Suggest to your teenager that if they ever see something uncomfortable or they are dealing with cyberbullying of some sort that you encourage them to come to you.  Lay it out ahead of time that you will not judge them for what is happening nor will you ridicule, blame, or become upset with them.  Let your teenager know that you will trust their judgment and that if something doesn’t feel good to them, that they can always approach you about an issue.   With that being said, hopefully, they will use the device responsibly and seek you out if something does not feel right.

4.) Don’t Yell, Blame, or Name Call

With a teen, arguments are inevitable.  Obviously, there is no such thing as a perfect family or a perfect teenager.  You are going to have moments with your teen that will create some stress and anger.  During these times, do your best to use your mental filter and not overreact to your teen.  Keep in mind, that although your child is older and more grown up, they still learn behaviors from you.  With that being said, think before you speak and make sure you diffuse arguments appropriately.  Don’t yell at them or lose your temper, don’t blame them for the issue at hand, and especially do not name call your teenager.  Otherwise, this will turn into anger, lack of trust, and resentment in the future.

5.) Give Your Teen Say In Some Major Decisions

Another way to talk to your teen and build trust is to let your teen become somewhat involved in a major household or personal decisions. For instance, maybe you are thinking about remodeling your basement.  Perhaps ask your teen what they think would make the basement more fun so that they can entertain their friends at times.  Or, maybe your teen is struggling at their current school.  Have a conversation with them about how they feel.  If they are persistent about wanting to change schools and if it realistically fits with your schedule, let them make that call.  Giving your teen a chance to voice their opinion will help build trust and will show your teen that you feel they are responsible enough to make important decisions.

Give these few suggestions a try and see if it helps build a stronger relationship with your teenager.  Obviously, every teenager is different and they each have their own unique personality.  Find what works best for your teen and be consistent in how you interact.  If you do these types of things, you and your teenager should continue down a healthy and happy path together.  Best of luck!