Every Kid is One Caring Adult Away From Being a Success Story

How Do I Get My Teen To Open Up?

A recent article on CNN’s web site reports one of the biggest challenges parents face is getting their teens to open up to them. Are you in that boat? Do you feel like you’re constantly talking to a brick wall when you try to have a conversation with your teen? If you said YES, you’re not alone.

In this episode of Parental Guidance, we’ll talk about how to build a rapport with your teen so they feel comfortable opening up to you.

“Vulnerability leads to vulnerability.

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1. Any time a young person you care about is acting out in an atypical way, it is very likely that there’s something else going on, something they haven’t talked out and verbally processed. It’s our job as caring adults to sidestep their behaviors so we can get to the root of the issue.

I want you to understand something critical about this subject. When we ask this question, we have to remember we are wanting our teen to talk about something so painful they don’t want to talk to anybody about it.

2. With that mind, how do we get our teens to talk with us about the very thing they are certain they don’t want to talk about?

Be vulnerable with them. If you want to get that youth to talk about something they don’t want to talk about, you should lead with talking about something in your own life you’d rather not talk about.

Whether or not you have experienced what they’re going through,  you can connect simply by sharing something that is genuine, raw or painful. By doing so, you’ll set the stage for a vulnerable conversation. You as the caring adult can be the leader and go first, and come from a place of vulnerability.

Will you lose credibility and authority? No, just the opposite in fact. What most young people lack is a caring adult who is willing to be authentic, genuine and vulnerable with them.

Setting the stage for vulnerability may have to happen over the course of a few conversations or it may happen after the first try.

3. Here’s what you can say after you feel like you’ve earned their trust and they can relate and appreciate your vulnerability, and say this verbatim: “I’ve noticed that you’re not acting like yourself, I’d really like to know what’s going on in your life. I’m here to listen.”

When you say this, it communicates to them that you don’t think they’re a terrible person. You know they are not always going through a hard time and they’re not always oppositional, ungrateful, defiant, etc.

It says to them “I’m interested and I’m not just here to fix you, yell at you or tell you what you’re doing wrong. I’m not here to fix, argue, yell, preach or debate; I’d like to listen.” And that’s exactly what you want to convey to help them open up and share with you.


VIDEO: Getting Your Teen To Open Up

BOOK: “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

SUBMIT A QUESTION: Ask Josh Your Question


  • Is there a kid in your life who you’re having a hard time getting to open up?
  • Have you been through a situation like this before?
  • What did you do that worked well or what worked terribly?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below…

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