Do you often get a simple “It’s OK” and a shoulder shrug whenever you ask your teenager about their day or school? If you said yes, it’s maybe wise to try another way in approaching your adolescent. Providing 3 meals a day and asking about their day may not be enough to truly connect with your teen. In order to have your child be comfortable enough to confide in you in any situation, you need to communicate with intent.
Kids these days are more prone to suffer from mental health issues as the shift in cultural trends & usage of digital media becomes a big part of their lives. This poses a new set of issues for today’s parents. We need now more so than ever to be able to communicate effectively with our next generation. So how do we raise emotionally healthy teens who can deal with negative emotions and wade through difficult situations?
Ask these questions to get your child responding more than a Yes or No.
- How are you feeling emotionally today?
You open up an opportunity to develop a deep honest relationship with your child with these few words. When you ask about feelings & emotions, you are acknowledging that their feelings matter. You are communicating it’s perfectly okay to have emotions, good or bad. If they open up, make sure to listen to understand, rather than listen to respond. More often than not, they just need you to hear them out.
- What happened today that made you smile or laugh or …
Complete the sentence yourself. Asking open ended questions makes them think instead of a standard, Yes or No. The point is to show you care more than the average day in school. You care to know about the little things, even the most mundane or silly events in their adolescent life. Nurturing this relationship takes time, patience and understanding. If they do not open up, let it be. Try again the next day.
- What are you grateful for today?
Kids and adults these days, unfortunately are very unaware of what they have and VERY aware of what they do not have. It is easy to take things for granted in our everyday hustle and bustle. Make it a point to sit together as a family and talk about gratitude. They will become more content and thankful overall.
- If you could relive the day, what would you do differently?
This question allows them to reflect on what went well and what did not. They can improve on the good and learn from their mistakes. This also lets them plan their days better if they have a good understanding and awareness of their everyday life.
- Is there anything you want to tell us that may be hard to say?
When your teenager looks down or sad about something, this is a good question to ask rather than “What’s wrong?”. Instead of assuming something is wrong, this gives them the assurance of a safe space to share without the pressure of being judged or punished. You want your child to feel safe to share the bad stuff instead of hiding it from you. When they do, reward them for being candor, do not punish honesty.
We believe that when the family unit is healthy, the society will be healthy. Teenage years are the most awkward and testing time in an adolescent life dealing with puberty, studies and society. So instead of being a scary authoritative figure, let’s be kind and gentle in guiding them through their journey of self discovery.
Sometimes, teenagers do not feel comfortable opening up to their parents no matter what. In these situations, it is healthy to acknowledge that they may need other adult mentors or even professional help. One such helpline is Befrienders. For emotional support, please call their hotline 603-79568145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org