How to get your kids to talk to you
Sometimes I go to the gym with my daughter and her friend. On the ride over they snicker and show each other Instagram posts. They talk nonstop while they are on the track. She says hi to all their friends and they crack jokes in the locker room. On the ride home, they sing along to Spotifiy the whole way. We drop her friend off and head home.
We get into the house and I ask my daughter “So you did you have a good workout?” She answers: Grunt. Eyeroll. Now I realize that is not stellar conversation, but seriously?
Why is it that your teen can talk to her friends for hours, but you only get grunts and one-word answers?
If this is happening in your house, you are not alone. (It just feels like that because your teen might not be saying much. ha!) I did a parent survey and hands down the number one concern was communicating with their teens.
Even the parents who were very satisfied with their communication wanted better communication.
The majority of the parents who identify themselves as having great communication still asked questions like:
- How do I get my kids to open up about the stuff that really matters? I get the sense that I only get a slice of what’s going on and it’s rather superficial.
- When she does open up a bit, she tells me things that make me worry, but if I continue to ask for more details she shuts me out.
If that sounds like your house, I’ll let you in on my secret, ninja-conversation-with-teens phrase:
“Say more about that”
These words are magic and have started many a fantastic conversation.
It goes like this:
Teen says she is considering (insert terrible idea here).
You are tempted to point out a dozen reasons that is doomed to fail. You have many questions and why she would consider such a doomed to fail idea. You are working yourself into a fit.
Instead you calmly say: “Say more about that.”
Questions shut them down. Questions feel like an invasion.
“Say more” is an invitation.
You may be tempted by other versions like, “tell me more”. But don’t be.
Tell me more isn’t as good. They aren’t telling you. They are just telling. Because to get to the good stuff you almost want them to forget you are there. Say more is an open invitation to hear what they are thinking.
It invites them to explore their thoughts out loud.