Truth is we can’t force teenagers (or anyone!) to talk even if will them to with all of our might. Unfortunately there is no magic wand for your teen to become a “Chatty Cathy”, but there are some changes you can make at home to provide a space for your teen to share if they would like.
It would be unfair to not mention the very very very normal aspect of a teen prioritizing their friends and talking to parents less. This could look like a variety of behaviors from eyes glazed over on text messages or more requests to go out and hang out with friends. Given the “normal-ness” of teenagers, I still find this seemingly simple activity to improve communication with your teen… family dinners.
Yes, you’ve heard it before, family dinners. As a teen counselor this is something I nearly always check in about when working with teens and parents – what are family dinners like?
Family dinners are a wonderful opportunity for your family to come together in a ritual way. There is something to be said about coming together at the end of a day and being together. Folks have done this for thousands of years and as simple as it sounds teen parents report increased connection and less acting out once family dinners became something routine.
Now at this family dinner, everyone’s phones are placed aside. I even invite parents to get one of those strip plugs so that everyone can plug their phone in together so that everyone’s phones are charged for when it’s appropriate to have phones. Yes parents this includes you setting your phones too!
At first it may the dinners may be a struggle and silence ensues, but in time your teen will get a deep sense of you always being there for them. Family dinners give parents and teens the opportunity to connect again on a deeper level instead of creating a narrative that “my teen never talks”.
If things go astray, there is nothing wrong with asking for some help with your teen. Working with a licensed teen counselor may be what your teen is needing to explore whatever is happening inside.