The teenage years are confusing for parents and teens alike. Kids that once seemed open and full of sharing suddenly withdraw.

As a parent, your primary concern may be fostering communication with your teen. Most parents struggle to get something other than a one-word response from their teenager.

It’s important to understand that you have to be delicate when approaching your teenager. You want to engage your child in conversation without putting them on the defense or causing them to withdraw.

While this can be challenging, the rewards of doing this are great. There are a few key strategies you can adapt to ensure that you foster strong communication and good ties with your teenagers.

Ask Indirect Questions to Facilitate a Conversation. If you ask your teenager a direct question you’ll probably end up with a one or two-word response. Your goal should be to encourage them to talk about things from a broader perspective. To engage your child in a conversation about a particular issue, consider asking them about something related but not directly tied to the subject you are getting at. You’ll help them ease into a discussion of what is on their mind.

Talk With Your Teen About Their Interests. Take an active interest in your teen’s interests. If they are doing something you don’t know anything about, consider learning more about it, so you can ask them interesting and exciting questions about their hobby or activity.

Listen to Your Teen and Avoid Lecturing. Most teens will shy away from the conversation if their expectation from that lecture is simply a lecture. You want your teens to know that you are interested in what they have to say. Withhold judgment at first and allow them to speak their mind.

Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Language. Your teen can send you many messages about what is on their mind through their non-verbal communication. You can also engage them in communication by putting your arm around them or patting them on the back, encouraging them to open up to you.

Remember your goal should be sending the message to your teen that you are providing a safe and nurturing environment where they can share their deepest concerns, fears, and interests without fear of immediate reprimand or judgment.

Always take the time to accept your teen’s feelings even if you don’t agree with them. You have to listen to your teen if you want them to open up. Avoid jumping in and offering suggestions immediately. Instead, encourage your teen to look for answers positively.

You can also encourage your teen to share more by sharing with them daily tidbits and insights into your life. Consider occasionally asking their advice or opinion on things.

You’d be surprised how much easier it is to get teens to open up once you adopt a few time-tested strategies. Provide your children with a nurturing and loving environment, and they will more easily welcome you into their life.

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