As teens become more independent and increasingly venture out into the big, wide world, what’s the best way to make sure they stay safe? There’s one simple but invaluable step you can take – talk regularly with your teen. Research shows that teens who talk to their parents about difficult issues such as alcohol, drugs and other risks make safer choices. Although talking about sensitive topics with your teen is easier if you started when your child was young, it’s never too late to begin the dialogue.
Top 5 Tips for Easing Into Conversation with Your Teen
- Initiate good conversations. Bring up a news story at dinner, surf a website or read a Young Adult book together to get the conversation going. If a TV show you're watching brings up a sensitive topic, ask your teen what they know about the subject and if they have any questions.
- Create an open environment. Teenagers are constantly bombarded with images and messages from the Internet, television, movies and magazines. Let your teen know that they can ask you anything. When your teen asks about a particular topic, find out what they really want to know. This will help you give the correct answer without overwhelming them with too much information.
- Share your own values. Don’t assume that your teen understands your family values just because you share a home. Clearly communicate what you believe in and explain why you have the values you do.
- Listen to your child. If you really listen and give your teen your undivided attention, they will feel more comfortable coming to you with a question and talking to you.
- Be honest. Whatever your children’s ages, they deserve honest answers – this strengthens trust in you. Remember that the most difficult questions also give you a chance to communicate your values.
Although talking about tough issues can seem daunting, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to make sure teens know you are available to help when they need you. The facts and types of conversations are less important than your teens’ perception that you are there for them.
Reviewed by: Amanda Quevedo
Last reviewed: October 2019