14074 Trade Center Dr #145, Fishers, IN 46038, United States | 740 E. 52nd St., Indianapolis, IN 46205
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Getting Your Teen to Talk to You

As a therapist who specializes in teens, I know how hard it is to get an adolescent to open up when they don’t feel like it. One of the reasons it’s hard is because it feels so critical and whenever a situation has a lot of pressure, people can shut down. So I made a list of ideas to hopefully help get the ball rolling.

  1. Take a drive in the car. Eye contact can be too much when someone is upset and holding something in. This way you are not staring each other down and you can make it more light hearted. In the office, I might take a walk around the building or close my eyes in a session as an experiment. You won’t believe how much they open up if I am no longer looking at them.
  2. Do a puzzle, game, art project together. It’s the same principle as taking a drive. Get engaged in something else to take the pressure out of the equation. Be playful until it’s time to be serious. Much can be expressed by ART!
  3. Don’t give advice. Advice is how parents feel like they are being helpful but the teenager hears, “You aren’t doing it right. You should have done this.” They hear criticism. Instead, just keep reflecting what you are hearing, “Oh, you feel confused right now.” “Sad.” “Sounds like taking tests makes you anxious. Tell me more.” Make the phrase, “Tell me more” your best friend!
  4. Don’t make it about you or how you solved it when you were a teenager. If you say, “Well this is what I did when I was your age” then then they could feel minimized because it’s as if you ALREADY KNOW because YOU WERE A TEENAGER, TOO. The real truth is their situation is unique and they want you to really get it.
  5. Stay strong and empowered like you are a wise, self-assured guide. If you start feeling bad because you failed them and go into a dark place, now they have to deal with that, too! They feel doubly burdened. Many teens don’t open up because they are afraid of burdening you.
  6. Don’t talk in chapters. Talking in chapters is a phrase I learned from Scott Sells in his book Treating the Tough Adolescent. Chapters is when parents get on a soapbox and lecture for hours. Your child is completely tuning out because it’s too much. Too intense.
  7. Reflect on LOVING RESPECTFUL CURIOSITY rather than “I need to fix this problem.” That’s the mindset for which you are striving. GOOD LUCK!

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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