For some parents, having an introverted teen is confusing. If this is you, you might wonder why they keep so much to themselves. Sometimes, even asking the simplest of questions leads to a dead end.
One word answers are painful.
You want to know what your teen is thinking.
You want to know what is going well.
You want to know if anything problematic are there.
You want to help them in the same way you did when they were little. But they won’t let you in.
And it seems the more you try, the more you’re blocked.
It’s hard to keep going the longer this happens. It can actually hurt our feelings. As parents, we really want to know what is happening inside our quiet teens and it feels so awful to be on the outside.
So how do I get my teen to talk more???
This is a question I get asked often by parents. I think they expect the answer to be what the teen needs to do differently. But that never works.
When we want things to change in any relationship, the only person we can control is ourselves.
So for the question: how do I get my introverted teen to talk more; the solution is in what the parent can do differently.
Before, I share a few tips on what parents can do, I want to talk a bit about attachment.
What is Attachment?
Attachment is our need to belong to each other. Parents have a strong need to attach to kids and kids have a strong need to attach to their parents.
This means that deep down, your quiet teen is wanting a closer relationship with you. They may just need you to show up a bit differently in order for this to happen.
As introverts, what we need in relationships is often different, so once parents are aware of this, it can help improve the relationship.
3 tips parents can use to build better conversations
- Look for where you’re teen lets you in. Does your teen share a great moment from a video game? Or an interesting obscure fact that they just read about? Or what they love or really dislike in a novel they are reading? Whatever they are sharing, listen, and then listen, and then listen a bit more. Introverted teens often feel a bit invisible at school and might go much of the day without saying a word, so having a parent that just listens to them can help build the connection.
- Ask questions with curiosity. As you listen to your teen talk, come up with a few questions that can keep the conversation going. Do your best not to give advice. Advice giving is one of the quickest ways to shut down a conversation.
- Share something about yourself that can add to the conversation, if this fits. When my kids talk to me about video games, I have nothing to add so I just do my best to remember the basic facts of what they are talking about- not that exciting but it shows that I value what’s important to them.
These might sound like simplistic solutions but small changes are often more sustainable than big changes. By building in a bit more connection, and then a bit more connection, it can create a space where your introverted teen will feel more comfortable sharing the harder stuff.