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Ask the Community: Your tactics for helping a reluctant teen to open up

Ask the Community: Your tactics for helping a reluctant teen to open up


Ask the Community: Your tactics for helping a reluctant teen to open up

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Hi all!


@Sophie-RO shared this New York Times article with me yesterday about some of the reasons that teenagers find it hard to open up to their parents and I have been thinking about it since!  I thought the brains-trust here would have some interesting insights…


Check out the article by following this link.


The article talks about some of the reasons that teenagers will sometimes turn down the opportunity to share their worries and concerns with parents, how this makes us feel and how parents can offer support.


I thought this tactic was really interesting:


“Without delving into what’s wrong, we can ask if there’s anything we can do to help them feel better. Would they like our quiet company or prefer some time alone? Is there a comfort food we can offer or is there something they want to watch on TV?”


I know that there is a huge urge for me to try and ‘fix’ my son’s worries which means that I am constantly wanting a conversation about exactly what is troubling him which I often have to try and check.


So my question(s) for you:


Have you had experience with providing this kind of ‘tender, generic support’?

How did it work out and how did it make you feel?


Prolific scribe

Re: Ask the Community: Your tactics for helping a reluctant teen to open up

Hi Nick-RO,

I would love some ideas to help with this?


My 15 year old son has completely shut down communication with us.

For 12 months now I feel little surprise at the next spectacular event that occurs, as I have found that a few days later it has become the new normal. 


I am a problem solver. I gather all the facts and ideas I have and think an intelligent, thoughtful conversation with my son will get through. All the conversations have not made an iota of difference from what I can see. 


It got to a point where there was no conversation. If even a minor comment was made or question asked, he would explode yelling, walk away and slam all doors on the way to his room. 


Then I heard of the idea of the talking stick, I believe it was used by some indigenous North Americans. The person that held the stick was the only person allowed to talk at a meeting. All had to listen till the person holding the stick had said all they wanted. Then they choose who to pass it onto. 


I applied this strategy firstly just with my son. When it worked, I got my wife and son to have a conversation using this technique. Of course, all parties have to respect the rule for it to work. 


Unfortunately, this technique no longer works with my son. We are back where I try to have a discussion or conversation, he quickly starts yelling. Therefore we are back to no conversation. 

We have become his AirBnB, he just does not pay and we can’t go online and give him a bad tenant rating. 


There must be a vaccine for angry and yelling teenagers?!

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