Teenagers aren’t exactly known for being open books. They might spend most of their time in their room when they’re home, and might rarely be up for any kind of “deep” conversation. But, if you’ve noticed some irregular behavior in your teen, or you’ve picked up on the idea that something might be wrong, it’s normal to want to bring it up. 

So, what do you do when you’re met with the classic, “I don’t want to talk about it” line? 

Take a deep breath. Don’t immediately get upset or force your teen into a conversation. That will likely make things worse. 

But, if you do want to get to the bottom of things and help your teen work through whatever they’re dealing with, there are some strategies you can use to make things easier. 

Encourage Communication

talk to handEven if your teen says they don’t want to talk about something, let them know you’re there whenever they are ready to open up. When they know you’ve noticed something is off, it’s going to be harder for them to hide it. 

So, instead of forcing a conversation, say something like, “I’ve noticed that you’re not acting like yourself lately,” or “You seem down lately and I’m worried about you.” These simple observances can go a long way in letting your teen know they are cared for. When you go one step further to suggest they can talk to you about anything, you’re opening up a safe, judgment-free environment. Give it a bit more time, and they’ll be more likely to come to you when they’re ready. 

Validate Their Feelings

When your teen finally does start to open up, practice being an active listener. While you can ask questions to guide the conversation, let them speak openly and honestly without interruption. 

Use both verbal and nonverbal language to let them know you’re paying attention. That could include repeating some things they say, nodding, and making sure you’re facing them directly. 

Everyone wants their feelings to be heard and validated, but it’s especially important for teens. No matter what your teenager is feeling or struggling with, be sure to let them know that those feelings are valid and they have every right to feel them. They shouldn’t ever be made to feel guilty or ashamed. 

Be a Problem-Solver

You might want to immediately jump in and solve every problem for your teen, but that’s not necessarily the best thing to do. Obviously, if something requires an adult’s assistant, make sure you handle it. But, if your teen is dealing with something that could be a learning and growing experience, try not to take over. 

Instead, work with them on coming up with viable solutions. Give them advice and encouragement. Talk about similar situations you might have been in and what you did to resolve them. Most importantly, show your support as your teen works things out. Make sure they know that you’re there for them every step of the way. Sometimes, just knowing they have someone in their corner can make a difference. 

Keep the Conversation Open

Don’t make the mistake of only talking to your teen about things when you feel like something might be wrong. Establish strong, healthy communication habits within your household. Doing so will make it easier for your teenager to come to you about everything. You’ll be less likely to experience those “I don’t want to talk about it” moments, and more likely to build a strong, healthy, open relationship with your teenager as they grow. 

So, while it might be a little frustrating when your teenager doesn’t want to open up right away, be patient. Use some of these strategies to prioritize communication, and you might be surprised by how quickly things change.

If you’re interested in learning more about how therapy can help, don’t hesitate to contact me for information or to set up an appointment for teen counseling.