Teenagers are known for being distant. As they go through adolescence, they struggle with hormones, growing up and figuring out who they are and where they belong in the world. They might push you away, but, according to Psychology Today, they actually still need you as a role model and need the boundaries you set for them.
While they will most likely return to you after their struggle to find themselves is complete, that doesn’t mean you should give up on communicating with them now. Even if conversations don’t come naturally, there are steps you can take to talk to your daughter in a healthy way and stay a part of her life.
Discuss Neutral Issues
You may want to hear about her latest relationship or her feelings, but your daughter might not be ready to open up like that yet. So, instead, keep the conversation in a neutral tone. Talk about a book she’s reading or a movie she just watched. Read articles from magazines she enjoys and discuss them with her.
Family dinners are an excellent way to begin discussions on neutral issues and even navigate your way into more intimate topics. Keep questions simple and avoid judging her responses.
Change the Way You Ask Questions
Tired of getting “yes” and “no” responses? The fault may actually be yours and the types of questions you ask. Consider altering your questions so that a genuine response is needed. Be specific as well.
Instead of: “Do you like being on the basketball team?”
Try: “How do you think you’re doing on the basketball team? What does your coach say about how the team is doing this year?”
Take Advantage of the Night
Many teens find it easier to discuss certain issues under the cover of darkness. Take advantage of this by making yourself available. Stay up and wait for her to get home from hanging out with friends or going on a date. When she comes in, however, don’t jump on her with a million questions. Instead, keep the conversation light and offer a reason to stay up and chat, like a bowl of ice cream or a marathon of her favorite television show. When she’s comfortable with the situation, ask innocent questions, like, “How was your date?” or “Your friends seem like fun, did you enjoy watching the movie with them?”
If your daughter starts a conversation with you, try not to react to what she says until she is completely finished talking. It’s tempting to interrupt and put your two cents in, but she may find it difficult to open up to you if she feels she isn’t being heard.
Acknowledge Her Feelings and Opinions
If your teen decides to talk to you, don’t dismiss her opinions or feelings, even if you find them silly or misguided. You might think you’re preparing her for dealing with the real world, but she will simply believe you don’t understand her or are dismissing her. Instead, give weight to those feelings and let her know that you understand.
Having trouble talking to your daughter? A little distance may simply be a part of growing up, but having healthy conversations on a regular basis can help you determine if your teen is handling adolescence well or needs outside help from a boarding school for troubled teens like Greenbrier Academy. Use these tips to start the next conversation.