The teenage years have been likened to the terrible twos: experiencing new parts of life, expanding boundaries, throwing tantrums, self-centeredness and asserting independence are parts of both developmental stages. The difference is that teenagers make some pretty important decisions – decisions that can result in rough consequences. Driving, sex, drug and alcohol use. Real deal stuff.

And if you haven’t already noticed, teenagers don’t always read like an open book, so…

How do you get your teenager to open and talk to you? Our teen therapy center, and the members of our staff who offer teenage counseling services, have put together a few words of wisdom to help you open the doors to productive communication with your adolescent:

1. Listen & watch: Sometimes, silence is golden. Instead of asking your teenager direct questions about his or her day, tune in carefully – to what they’re saying and doing – and pick up on context clues. Teens often reach out very – and we mean very – passively. Learn to accept the way your teenager chooses to communicate. If you begin to notice changes to your teenagers mood, behavior, energy level, appetite, or ability to function, step in – supportively – and ask about it. Your teen may need professional help from a teenage counseling center.

2. Give a head’s up: If there is something you need to talk about with your teenager, give them the luxury of advanced notice. Tomorrow afternoon I’d like to talk about your performance in Chemistry class. This allows your teen to mentally prepare for and pre-process the conversation. Bonus points if you can feed your teenager prior to actually having the conversation! “Hangry” teenagers are never easy to talk to!

2. Be empathetic: Sure, there are much bigger problems in life than Katie having the same. exact. prom dress as your daughter. But simply brushing off these seemingly very serious teenage complications is dismissive – and a quick way to shut your teenager down. Validate their feelings – wow, that sounds like a tough problem – but don’t try to superhero solve your teenager’s quandaries. They got this.

3. Trust your teenager: Show that you have faith in your teen, and boost or or her confidence, by asking for favors.

4. Explain yourself: Dictatorship is so 1980’s. Today’s teenagers are more apt to follow your rules if you can explain why they are rules – even is the reason is pretty obvious. No, you may not go to a party on a school night because you won’t get enough sleep, which will have a negative impact on your ability to learn tomorrow. Your teen may not like the explanation, but they won’t feel like they are be arbitrarily parented.

5. Cue the praise: Be positive and encouraging. It may feel like your kind words go in one ear and out the other, but trust us…they don’t!

6. Lead by example, keep calm, and carry on: Teenagers have a funny way of making tempers flare on the home front. Remember, as the adult, you need to set and example and stay calm. Your teenager lacks the ability to control his or her emotions and think clearly while angry. You, however, don’t. Deep breaths, count to 10, whatever it takes to tame that temper!

7. Share experiences – and meals! When you spend time with your teenager, you create space for meaningful conversations. Put down the phones and engage in some real quality time. Avoid asking any intrusive questions and just have a regular old conversation with your teenager. Knowing that he or she can talk to you normally will show them that, if something more difficult comes up down the road, they can confide in you.

think you need teenage counseling services?

If your teenager is exhibiting such warning signs as depression, running away, involvement in illegal activities or drug use, poor performance in school, sexual delinquency, self-harming behaviors, eating disorders or dramatic changes in his or her social landscape, please schedule a free consultation with our teen therapy center. Our staff provides some of the best teenage counseling services in Denver. We are happy to answer your questions, address your concerns and help get your teenager the counseling he or she needs – whether with us or another mental health professional.

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