Posted on: June 11, 2015
Even beginning with early involvement in children’s lives, there may come a time when children become reluctant to discuss what’s going on with them.
Sometimes there’s a very obvious resistance when questioned, in teens’ tone of voice and choice of words; other times, the signs are more subtle, reflected in grades, less visibility around the home or less participation in traditional family activities.
Getting – and keeping – conversations going may not come as naturally to parents as to professional teen counselors, but recognizing a change in behavior is a vital step to preventing more serious issues from occurring.
Tips that can help keep the dialogue flowing include:
Be calm. Treat every question teens ask as an indication of something that may be going on in their lives – whether it’s their situation directly or a situation with a close friend. Choose your words carefully and be composed. It may be difficult for the person you still view as a child to be asking what seems like quite adult questions. As unsettling as the questions may be, your decision about how to respond to those questions can easily result in a closed door which may become much more difficult to open.
Be available. All parents have full plates. Teens don’t usually pick ideal, quiet times to approach you with their questions. You might be juggling dozens of decisions, but make the time to stop and really pay attention to your teen. You already know how quickly childhood passed into teenhood.
Be clear. You may not have been reared in a home where certain topics were discussed. Teens today have direct, immediate access to information and material unheard of at any point in history – volumes of content. Their exposure, either through their own experience or through shared experience with other teens, puts them at great risk for engaging in behavior and activities that can lead to all kinds of serious illnesses or even death. If you’re not confident about your ability to probe and asking leading questions, consult with teen counselors who are formally trained and, as an outside party, may be able to glean greater detail than you ever could, despite your best efforts.
Be visible. With busy lives, it’s easy to overlook opportunities right in front of you. Recognize that there are more ways to communicate, including by text. If you’re unfamiliar with the technology your teen is using, do your homework and get an education. Often local libraries and community colleges, as well as retailers such as Apple, Verizon and others will offer low and no cost options that can teach you how to stay in touch.
Remember that teen counselors are available at Edgewood Clinical Services to give you the “edge” on communicating with your kids. If you even think you may need help, make an appointment.