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Effective Communication With Teens: Using Questions, Not Demands

Communicating with teens effectively — and getting them to communicate with us — can be tough. But parenting expert Amy Speidel says that one change to the way we talk to teenagers can go a long way. Watch the video to learn more.

How To Talk To Teenagers Using Questions


When we think about the challenges that we have with teenagers, so much of it is that we are relying on our expertise from past years. And being a teenager is an entirely different thing than being a child. So those adolescent years are really about preparing for the future.

One thing that we want to recognize is, up until a certain time, information is really valuable for children. We give them information. “Here’s what’s happening, here’s how we’re doing this. Here’s what you need to do. And here’s what you need to pack.” And then when they get to those teen years, they’re preparing for that future. So we’re going to be more “curious” and ask questions rather than just giving information in the way they did when they were young.

So that when your teenage comes in and they say, “I’m going over to Justin’s for the afternoon,” instead of saying, “You’ve got a report due tomorrow. You need to stay here and work on that report,” you’re going to say, “Well, I’m curious. How is this working in with the other things that you’ve got on your plate right now?” That puts the onus on them. Now I’ve gotta figure out how to organize myself, instead of having my parent do all that organization stuff for me.

And what will normally happen is this: “I’ll get it done! I’ll get it done, don’t be on my back about it!” “Okay, so you have a plan. I’d like to hear that plan, so that I know what’s going to be happening as well. So what’s your plan for fitting this in to a busy week?” And then they’ve got to come up with a plan. Nobody wants to do that. Nobody wants to be reminded of the work.

(For the rest of the interview about communicating with teens effectively, click play on the video above.)

Amy Speidel

Amy Speidel is a Certified Parent Coach at Senders Parenting Center and an instructor in the Conscious Discipline Philosophy for parents and teachers.