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Want to Get Middle School Boys to Talk? Stop Asking Questions

Does your son clam up the moment you ask a question? In this two-minute video, Michelle Icard, author of Middle School Makeover, offers ways to help open the lines of communication with your middle schooler.

Communicating With Teenage Sons In Middle School


One of the questions that I get asked most frequently by parents of boys is “How do I know what’s going on? Now that we’re in middle school, it’s a whole new world out there but my son won’t tell me anything about it.” And that’s frustrating for parents, especially for those who had a close relationship with their son and he starts to clam up.

One of the things that parents should know is this. Kids, as I mentioned in The Middle School Construction Project, feel like they’re being judged on that, and evaluated on their progress all day long. So they’re walking down the halls, and kids are judging. Are their bodies developing quickly enough? Too slowly? Too fast? Is their identity developing on track? Are they cool, are they a spaz, are they a loser, are they still a momma’s boy?

So these things, they’re being evaluated on them all day long. And by the time the day is over, and they get in your car, they’re exhausted. They’re worn out from being judged. So when they feel you starting to ask a bunch of questions, they often feel judged, even if you’re not, even if you’re just truly curious about their day.

Cool the Questions

I suggest that parents cool the questions for a little while. When your son comes home, say, “Grab a snack. Relax for a little bit. I’m going to go do X.” Give your kid some time. And the less you talk, the more your son is likely to talk to you. Couple of other things that will help is scheduling a time to talk if you do want to have some specific questions answered. So you can say, “I’d love to hear how your test went or how the tryouts were. Maybe after dinner we could sit down for a couple of minutes and you could tell me.”

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(For the rest of the interview, please view our attached video)

Michelle Icard is the author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. Learn more about her work with middle schoolers and their parents at

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