If your teenager won’t talk to you

1. work out how to sort out the disagreement.

Before you talk to your child, think about what you WANT out of the conversation.
Do you want them to understand why you’ve had to say no to something?
Or sort out a disagreement?

Bearing that in mind, it’s really important to stay calm and respectful when you talk to them.
When you’re ready, perhaps go to your child’s bedroom, and ask if it’s a good time to talk. Explain the problem in a neutral way– without blaming your teenager.

Say, “It’s sad when we don’t get on, and I’d like to understand how you’re feeling.”
And really listen to your teenager. Then summarise what they’re feeling and what they’ve said. And check you’ve really understood.

Then say,“Is it OK to explain my side?” Tell your teenager how you feel, and explain your side. If you’re trying to find a solution, brainstorm ideas with them about what you could do. And negotiate and compromise until you find a solution you’re both happy with. Then end it with a hug.

2. Really empathise with your teenager and let them know you get how hard it is for them.

Say: “It looks like you’re really angry with me. That must be difficult because I’m here every day.
I’ll bet you’re thinking how nice it will be to leave home and you can do what you want.”

It’s OK to say it if that’s what you think they’re thinking. When your teenager feels understood, it stops them feeling they have to battle with you. Even if you’ve made a decision they’re not happy with. Especially if you try to get their needs met another way.

3. It’s important to stop criticising your teenager and start noticing what they do right.

Teenagers get sick and tired of being nagged and criticised. Sometimes they feel they can’t do anything right, so they just give up trying. So try to stop focusing on the negative things your teenager does. And start describing aloud what they’re doing right or just OK. Even if they don’t do it perfectly. Just change what you focus on.

  • “Thank you for bringing your plate through.”
  • “You’re on time for school.”
  • “You remembered to hang the towel up.”

Just think – if your best friend was a visitor, and did exactly what your teenager did, what would you say to your best friend?

So if your teenager won’t talk to you, three things you can do are:

  1. Work out how to sort out the disagreement.
  2. Empathise with your teenager and let them know you get how hard it is for them.
  3. And stop criticising your teenager and start noticing what they do right.

If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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