Four Ways to Improve Communication with Your Teenager

  1. Ask open-ended questions, such as “Tell me about your day” or “What did you and your friends do today?” These allow your teenager to tell you about events and they also require more than a one-word answer.

  2. Listen reflectively. You can do this by simply repeating what your teenager has said or by saying it back to them in your own words. This will make sure that you truly understand what your teenager is trying to tell you.

    Do not expect too much first time you ask – persevere!

  3. Affirm your teen’s feelings. This makes teenagers feel supported and will make it easier for them to talk to you in the future. An example of this would be: “I understand that it must have been hard for you to come to me about this. I really appreciate your openness.”

  4. Summarize what you’ve heard. This reinforces what your teen has said and shows that you have been listening to them.

Also, keep in mind that there are non-verbal ways of communicating that can also help with open communication. Making eye contact and nodding your head while they are talking are effective ways of helping someone else feel heard.

We are not always in the mood to communicate ourselves so it has to be a repeated activity to find the time and place when the communication opens up.

Adapted from: Parent Information Series – How to listen actively to your child, AADAC 2006