At my BEYOND MAMA BEAR presentation in Denver last night, a parent asked for advice on getting her reticent teenager to talk. I mentioned my favorite tactics, Distraction and Deception (or The Trojan Horse of Conversation). Distracting teenagers with shared physical activity (shooting hoops, scrubbing baseboards, walking the dog) often results in spontaneous and surprising conversation. Approaching them with feigned conversational motives likewise can be more productive than direct questioning. Teenagers are tricky. If they get wind of anything smacking of A Talk, their defenses go up and their speaking voices shut down.
To that end, I also mentioned 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids "So How Was School Today" Without Asking Them "So How Was School Today." Here is a clever list of questions to ask which inspire more than one-word answers. Well. Imagine my delight just now when I discovered 25 Ways to Ask Your TEENS "How Was School Today ..." ! It's great. Use these suggestions and invent others of your own. Teenagers will talk. They just won't talk about what we want them to discuss, nor will they talk at times we find convenient.
I love this collection of conversation-starters for teens, because it speaks to the importance of knowing and honoring them (which is ultimately how we protect them). At this point in their development, remember, young people start to look more grown-up than they really are. Many of our beloved teenagers are self-absorbed puddles of hormones and confusing emotions. No wonder some of them don't like to talk to us; they can barely make sense of the racket inside their own brains.
How do YOU do it? Please add your favorite tricks to get teens talkin'!