Anyone with a teenager knows how challenging it can be to get them to share deeply. Part of the reason is that teens want to establish their own identity that is separate from you. Communicating on a deep level is connecting, not operating. The truth is that teens need and want both. You can use open questions to create dialogue and depth in your relationship.

Try these simple questions and see what happens:

How would your friends describe you?

What would you take if you were moving and could only take 3 things with you?

What age would you like to be if you could be any age and why?

What was the best day of last week and why?

What is it that you wish I understood better about you or your friends?

If you could be famous what would you like to be known for?

If you could take 3 people on a trip, who would you take and why?

What is something you wish you could change about yourself?

What is one of your or my greatest strengths and/or weaknesses?

What is the hardest thing about school for you?

Do you have a favorite teacher, or coach? What makes them your favorite?

Which feelings are the hardest for your to express? Anger? Sadness? Jealousy?

When asking these questions, don’t give advice or judgment. If you do, you will stop the flow of communication between you and your teen. Let them ask these questions of you or volunteer to answer them first to create more safety and openness. If your teen doesn’t want to answer them, don’t push. What they don’t say can be as informative of what they do say.

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