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6 Awesome Communication Tips to get your Teen to Open up to You (Updated 2020)

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Are you desperate for communication tips to get your moody teen to talk to you?

Is there an impenetrable wall of silence between you and your teen?

You find that every question gets a grunt in response or is ignored totally.

Why not take a good look at how you talk to your teen?  Maybe you’re asking the wrong questions. Questions that make him rush to his bedroom and shut the door on you.

Don’t despair. He needs you now more than ever before. But you need to have a plan to foster open communication between you and your teen.

This post contains affiliate links which means that I may earn a commission if you use them. I only recommend tools that I use and trust. You can read the full disclosure policy here.

Here are a few great books to read to improve your relationship with your teen. They are all on Amazon’s best seller list:


Don’t despair. You can and will rebuild your bond with your teen. 

But, you will have to make a few vital changes if you want the barriers between you and your teen to be shattered.

This post points out :

  • communication mistakes you may be guilty of which make your teens shut up and keep you out
  • how to avoid these parenting fails so the red lights stop and turn to green

Get your handy list of 10 Ice Breakers to break the barriers and rebuild your relationship with your teen.


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Here are 6 practical tips to get your teenager talking to you in no time at all.

Communication tip #1: Be understanding

Duncan Lindsay states in his article Being a teenager is the worst time of your life and here’s why:

….even though adults endure everything from work problems to debt, no period of your life comes close to being as difficult as your teenage years.

Try to remember that your teen is not an adult. He does not have the maturity to avoid simple mistakes that you probably made at his age.

Remember your angst-filled teen years? Remember the emotional seesaw you often found yourself riding? Well, it is far more complex to be a teenager today.

Your teen is struggling on multiple fronts – physically, emotionally and psychologically.

You need to provide love and support during this difficult time.

Find ways to connect with your teen. A a funny text or a favourite hot drink at night can go a long way to building bridges between you and your teenager.

Communication tip #2: Be tolerant

Are you guilty of labelling your teen based on his behaviour? For instance, do you describe him as:

   –  messy because his room is always untidy
   –  lazy because he did not walk the dog
   –  Irresponsible because he did not unpack his sports kit

Perhaps, your teen does this so frequently that you automatically judge his character by his actions.

This is a one-way ticket to parent-teen power struggles. The best way to avoid this is to be more tolerant of the difficult phase that your teen is in.


Do you find you just can’t stand your teen’s clothes, music, tattoos, hair, friends?

Yes, his clothes may make him look like a homeless person and the green hair may drive you crazy but they’re his choices. He is not you so allow him time to find his way.

Do you criticize his choices constantly?

Teenagers are sensitive. Remember, he is experimenting and trying new things to find the right fit.

Don’t crush his spirit by fault-finding. You may consider it good advice but your teen sees it only as criticism.

Being hypercritical of your teen and his choices affects his self - esteem, and confidence. He may withdraw from you totally and could result in your relationship being severed forever. Click To Tweet

So, taking a step back from judgment and criticism allows for a healthy relationship based on open communication to grow.

Communication tip #3: Negotiate and Compromise

You’re so used to calling the shots in the family that you’re unable to switch off.

It pays sometimes to be just the minute taker so you note the points of all members.

To step out of the vacuum between you and your teen, you need to listen more than you talk.  Listening is a vital parenting skill.

Do you know that parents have mastered the art of not listening to their teens?

Are you guilty of talking at rather than to your teen?

Are conversations between you going on parallel railway lines that will never converge?

Listening to your teen is one of the most important parenting tools. It:

 –  enables your teen to talk without fear of being judged

 –  allows you to fuel up on what is going on in his world

 –  builds trust

Get your handy list of 10 Ice Breakers to break the barriers and rebuild your relationship with your teen.


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Active listening is giving your full attention to what is being said. In this case, focusing 100% on your teen and what he is saying.

Let’s use the example of your teen wanting to talk about extending his curfew.

He wants to go to a concert that is about 45 minutes away from home. The time to get there and back as well as the duration of the concert would make it impossible for him to keep his curfew.


First, stop whatever you are doing to focus on the discussion:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Nod to show you’re invested
  • Be open to negotiation.

Show you are on the same wavelength with verbal clues.

To get back to the curfew example, do not allow your fears about the gazillion things that can go wrong to intrude in the convo.

 State back to him, for example,  that you can see the time deadline would be a problem.

Take into account all his reasons for a later curfew. As he explains them, nod and ask open-ended questions to get more information.

Fully concentrate on what your teen is saying. This creates trust and an opportunity for open communication.

Build on this by reacting to what’s going on in your teenager’s life with concern, empathy, and understanding.

Since you allowed your teen to lead the way, it is likely you will come to an amicable arrangement about the curfew.

You’ve now built the foundation for more heart to hearts of this type.

Communication tip #4: Show Respect 

When things are strained between you and your teen, do not act as if your teen is an ad-hoc member of the family.

Treat him like a valued member and involve him in family decision making – whatever it is from menu planning to the annual vacation.

Showing respect for his opinions makes him feel that he is important and that he is not merely an appendage.

Continue with the family activities you had before he became a teenager – dinner, exercise together, church, visiting the grandparents on Sunday whatever – keep them going with the expectation that he is a part of them all.

Keep communication open with weekly family meetings. Play to his strengths by asking for his help. This boosts his confidence and self-esteem.

Get to know your teen as a person by chatting with him about his interests.

Kathryn Streeter advises in   7 MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE WITH TEENS:

Get into their world. Listen to music with them, watch a show they like or ask them about their favourite social media apps or video games.

A few tweaks like this could go a long way to healing your relationship with your teen.

Communication tip #5: Do not lecture

Have you ever had a bad habit that you tried to break? Biting your nails or cutting out sugar?

Kick this major parenting blunder to the curb –  lecturing your teen about his bad habits. A lecture is a one-way process – not a conversation – so your teen tunes you out.

Your know it all attitude ( I’ve been a teen – it’s just a phase – you will grow out of it ) needs a total revamp.

You think you’re giving good advice. It may be good and sound good to you but you were a teenager a long time ago. Things have changed so much that you may be out of step with teenagers today.

Teenagers can be quite dramatic. For instance, If he is going through a break-up, it feels like the end of the world to him. Allow him his feelings. Don’t trivialize them simply because he is young and you know that it will pass.

Quit lecturing. It serves no purpose but to breed anger and resentment in your teen.

Communication tip #6: Be Positive

Try engaging with your teen as you would with a friend or colleague you’ve met after a while. You find out all the minutiae about their lives since your last meeting without annoying each other.

Use the very same skills when talking to your teenager about the latest game he’s playing or a sleep over. You will be amazed at how he will open up to you.

Here are a few conversation killers to avoid:

Loaded, sarcastic questions and comments:

  •  Can’t you ever be on time?

  •  Will you be home after your curfew as usual?

  •  I hear you but ….

  •  I understand although I ….

They make your teen defensive and unwilling to enter into any interaction with you.

Your teen gets your concern for his safety and our understanding of the situation

•  Tell me more about the accident.

•  Then what happened?

•  Was anyone hurt in the accident?

Avoid Don’t, Stop, No, Never

Using negative words reinforce negative behavior. They make your teen dig his heels in and refuse to cooperate on anything.

•  Don’t break your curfew again

•  No, you can’t go to the party. Have you forgotten, it’s Grandma’s

•  I will never allow you to ever get a tattoo.

•  Stop texting and start with your homework.

Use do commands

Say yes as in when you’ve done your homework, I’ll drive you to the mall to meet your friends. Instead of you’re not going anywhere until your chores are done.

Say yes to him going to the party if he agrees to leave at an appointed time to be at Grandma’s party.

End these conversation doorstops to begin a better relationship with your teen.



Your teen is like a racing car except he has not had the training to drive it. It is your task as the parent to empower him with the necessary skills to drive the car properly.

The best way to do that is to build a relationship with your teen that is based on trust, mutual respect, and understanding.

Let’s recap. Bad communication habits to break are:
  –  Being overly critical of your teen and his behavior
  –  Not actively listening when he talks to you
  –  Lecturing him about adopting your ‘better’ way
  –  Using conversation killing vocabulary

This quotation is the perfect motivator to improve your communication skills so you and your teen can engage better in the future

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Do you have any tips about parenting mistakes and how to fix them fast?

Share them in the comments below.

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37 thoughts on “6 Awesome Communication Tips to get your Teen to Open up to You (Updated 2020)”

  1. Ugh. Teens. I have two. I don’t even know what to do half the time. This advice is great, though. They’re lots of fun, but such a challenge. I just hope I’m doing ok.

  2. I’m not even married, but that day will come surely and I should be able to deal with my teens. As other people said these suggestions are also helpful with coworkers and friends.
    Thanks for sharing your tips.

  3. These are all such great advice! Teens are in the process of forming their identity, and their brains are still developing their pre-frontal cortex. An incredibly challenging time when they want so badly to be treated like adults, but their good decision-making processes have not yet formed. I love how your advice helps nurture their independence and honor their voices, while still holding firm boundaries.

  4. Wow! These are great tips on ways to connect to your teens. It is interesting because many of these tips are also true when dealing with coworkers. I will share this! 🙂

  5. This is an important topic to discuss because the teenage years are the most difficult ones to communicate with your kids because this is where they’re torn to do what they want vs what their parents say.

    1. Yes but what parents need to understand is that the teen is trying to find himself. To do this he needs to challenge authority figures. Parents need to find the right way to tackle this phase. One way is to improve their communication skills.

  6. Pingback: Best Study Tips For Teenagers To Actually Get Straight A’s

  7. I enjoyed your post. I have facilitated a few parenting classes, one of the most important factors is figuring out the parenting style.

  8. This is great advice. I believe many parents can get into the trap of being the rule giver without a loving and respectful listening ear. Thank you for this!

  9. This is a great read, thanks! Although I also think it’s important to give ourselves a break occasionally and realize that sometimes teens are just teens, and our relationships, while not perfect, will generally improve with time.

    1. I think you should start laying the foundation for a great relationship with your daughter now.Start really listening, go on dates with her and go crafting together now so later things won’t be so hard.

  10. I love this – there are so many ways to support your teen and being critical isn’t one of them. I was recently talking to another parent who had just found that the “if, then” technique really worked for her as well! Planning to try it with my own.

  11. I don’t even know how my parents dealt with me as a teenager — it’s such a rough time; you’re trying to figure out who you are, dealing with puberty, navigating dating for the first time, thinking about your future, and you’re constantly emotional. It is so important to have supportive parents.

    Thanks for sharing! x


  12. These are such great tips Poovanesh – My teen has become an adult, but I still remember the big fights that we had – and often, it is still difficult to connect with him. I think my biggest mistake is being judge and jury. I want him to have the best life, but I have to remember that his best life isn’t the same as my best life, and so I have to let him find his way without judgement from me!

    1. Hi Nicole. I think the key is being prepared to ‘unparent’ during the teen years. We take our parenting too seriously and want to guide and steer them to be the best they can be. This often breeds anger and resentment.

  13. Pingback: 5 Tips On How To Relate To A Teenager • Helena's Infinite Shades of Life

  14. I really enjoyed reading this post and as a matter of fact it is similar to a post I made a few weeks ago – 5 Tips On How To Relate To A Teenager. You should check it out, when you get the chance!

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