How to Communicate With Uncommunicative Teens

By Tiffany Raiford
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When your child reaches the teen years, it is not unusual for her to pull away from you. She’s attempting to assert her independence. You may start to feel frustrated when she doesn't communicate with you. As her parent, you want to keep the lines of communication open to maintain a healthy and close relationship with her, but when she only gives you one-word responses, this is difficult to do. This doesn’t mean you have to suffer forever, however.

Step 1

Set aside a block of time every day during which you sit down with your family, your teen included, advises the website by Boys Town Hospital. During dinner time, for example, talk about your day, ask your teen questions about school and connect as a family. It might not work immediately, but chances are that once your teen gets used to designated family time, she will become more open and communicative.

Step 2

Open up the lines of communication with your teen by being understanding, advises Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC, licensed mental health counselor. For example, when your teen seems to be withdrawing from you and not wanting to communicate, start off a conversation by telling her you understand that she’s a teen now and that means her schedule is busier than ever. Do not use the word “but” after that. Instead, follow up with something more positive. Tell her you understand how distracting it is to be so busy and ask if she would like to go for a walk or out to dinner with you. This allows you to spend time quality time together.

Step 3

Ask questions that you are genuinely interested in hearing the answers to. However, stay away from loaded questions. Phrase them in such a way so they have to be answered with more than one word. For example, don’t ask your teen why he played so poorly at football practice this afternoon. Ask him instead how he plans on preparing for Friday night’s game. The loaded question is more likely to put him on the defensive, as you just pointed out a flaw in his performance. The second question, which is curious and nonjudgmental, could provide the answer to your question. It also helps to get him engaged in a conversation without upsetting him.