7 Ways to Get Your Tween or Teen to Open Up

Has your previously chatty child suddenly decided to stop sharing with you? You're not alone.  Many parents of teens and tweens feel shut out from their children's lives. Mighty Mommy shares 7 strategies to get your reticent kid to open up.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #282

Tip #6Gather 'Round the Table

Study after study shows the benefits of gathering together for a family meal on a regular basis.  Not only does this give you the time to reconnect after a busy day, it is truly an opportunity for some good old-fashioned conversation.

See also: 5 Tips to Make Family Meal Planning Easier

If your family is always on the go and not used to breaking bread together, try to ease in the new habit by working in just one or two meals as a family. Make the focus on togetherness, not serving a 5-star gourmet dinner.  Your kids may grumble about it at first, but more often than not, deep down, they will come to enjoy this time since it gives them a chance to be heard.

Tip #7:  Be Available

Parents who have close relationships with their teens often attribute this closeness to their willingness to be available if their teen signals a desire to talk - even if it's late at night and she tells you the boy she’s had a crush on for the past year has just asked out her best friend.  

This can be difficult if you work long hours and get home late or if your teen has a busy schedule with sports and activities that don’t allow for regular time together at meals or before bed.   But teens who feel that other things are more important to their parents often look elsewhere when they're emotionally needy, so make every effort to stay connected no matter how little time you have each day.  

15 Questions to Ask Your Child About School

Years ago, I came across this list of open-ended questions that are great conversation starters and can be modified for most age groups:

  1. What was your favorite part about school today?

  2. What happened at school today that you would have liked to have gone differently?

  3. Was your whole class there today? (Follow-up question: With so-and-so absent, did it change the way your class worked together?)

  4. Was the test you were studying for as hard/easy as you thought it would be? What kind of questions were on it?

  5. Who did you hang out with at recess today?

  6. Who sat with you at lunch today?

  7. Tell me one new thing you learned at school today and I'll tell you one thing I learned at work.

  8. Who or what made you laugh today?

  9. If your child has a behavior plan, these questions can be tailored for your child's goals: How much longer until you get to choose from the prize box? What did your chart look like today?

  10. Did anyone get on the teacher's nerves today? How about on your nerves?

  11. What's your favorite thing about your teacher?

  12. What project are you working on in Art/Music class?

  13. What skills are you working on in Physical Education?

  14. What book(s) did you read today? Tell me a little bit about the characters.

  15. What are you learning about in World History?

How do you get your child to open up and talk?  Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.  Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.



All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.