Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a school counselor, or a friend, you already know that it is quite a challenge to reach out and talk to a teen. The inhibitions and the insecurities that a teen has made him very reluctant in sharing anything to you. People of all ages have problems. And the issues and concerns that a teen undergoes are neither small nor unimportant. No matter what their problems are, you have to dig deep and find more reasons on how to talk to them. A reluctant teen is a normal teen. It is an ordinary event which occurs to every teenager out there.
Now, the question is, how do you talk to a reluctant teen?
Tips on How to Talk to a Reluctant Teen
You Have to Listen First
Teenagers have been being talked to all their lives. If you are a parent, go back to the times when you said to yourself that you have heard enough of the reasoning of your child. How many times, as a counselor or as a teacher when we stopped a student from talking because you did not believe his words anymore? A teenager can be hesitant in sharing a part of his life because he already knows that you do not believe him. Instead of thinking of yourself as an authoritative figure who has to say what is on his mind, you should keep your lips shut for a moment and start listening to the teen. According to “The Science of Listening”, an article published in HuffPost, acceptance, empathy, and connection all occur when you start listening.
You have to listen first to know what the problem is. A teen can have trust issues with older people especially with the ones that he converses with every day. He does not want to be judged. He does not like everyone to know about his secrets. But a good characteristic of a teen is that once you gain their trust, it can be very hard for it to fall through. If you are a parent, you need to stop talking and start listening. If you are a counselor or a teacher, lend your ears to the teen. You do not have to talk right there and then. This moment can be all about him and his narrative. What you need to do is to listen to what he has to say.
Do not Think of a Teen’s Problem to be too Shallow
Being a counselor myself for more than fifteen years, I have had my set of encounters with reluctant teens. The problem with most parents and even teachers and other counselors is that they often see a teen’s problems as too shallow. The danger when you think of a problem as too shallow is that you tend to disregard the problem or provide solutions that are unrelated to the problem. Instead of focusing on the issue, you tend on casting a shadow on the teen himself. This is bad and is detrimental to your relationship with the teen. The more you do this, the more reluctant he will be to you.
Every relationship can be renewed. No matter what relationship you have right now, it can still be restarted and rekindled. Approach any teenage problem as a very important issue. This is what they are going through right now and no one can tell them otherwise. Whether it is about issues with relationship to the opposite sex, school problems, or family concerns, you have to treat each moment of your conversations with utmost importance. This is to ensure that he will continue to open up to you and share more of his experiences with you.
Ask Strategic Questions
Again, I have to remind you about listening first in any conversation with a teen. If he is reluctant to speak, then you can ask him questions that are not answerable by yes or no. You have to make the conversations longer. Make him say more instead of just uttering a few words to answer your questions. Ask questions like, “How are you with your family?” or “Can you tell me things that got you angry this morning?” By asking the right questions, you can make the teen talk, be more comfortable with the moment that you currently have, and know more about the situation that the teenager is in.
Go on Leisure Activities with the Teen
This can be quite a challenging task for counselors and school teachers. This tip is more suitable for parents who want to talk to their children. A reluctant teen may not want to talk about their present predicament. What he wants right now is to blow off some steam and get his mind off their situation. He does not want to spend more time worrying and thinking about his problem. To alleviate the pain that he has, you have to bring him to places that he can have fun and think of something else.
Take him to the park. Get to your wakeboards and enjoy the sun. Go to the ice cream store and buy him a treat. He deserves a break from all of his worries. By letting him enjoy this moment, he will eventually share his problems with you.
Keep the Communication Open
You can ask a teen with the best intentions in mind but if he does not trust you, he will never talk. But you should never give up. If he is hesitant to talk, you can just tell the teenager that the line is always open to him. Say to him that if he is ready to talk, you are just one call or one text away. By letting him know that you will always sit with him to listen to what he has to say, he will realize that you are the person that he will be texting or calling when it matters.
A teenager is reluctant because he is scared of being judged or being scolded at. Treat the teen like any other individual whom you know. Listen to his problems. Give him as much time as possible. And do not give up on him, ever. The moment that you surrender is the same moment that you stopped caring for him.
Mike Zhang is the Founder of FamilyLifeShare. Family life Share aims to share cool knowledge and unique experience about family life, marriage, love, relationships and parenting. They want to provide high-quality content to people who are looking for these topics. Visit FamilyLifeShare to read their articles about family life, marriage, love, relationships and Parenting.