Your teenager will talk when they're ready, and, if you take cautious steps, they'll feel comfortable enough to talk with you.
- Step 1: Reserve judgment, by instead asking what course of action your teen is contemplating. Guide them in evaluating pros and cons by asking questions. Share your opinion only if you're asked for it.
- TIP: Part of growing up is learning to sort feelings and confront fears by risking exposure through communication. No one can do it for them.
- Step 2: Express confidence in your teen. Remind them that you love them and will assist any time you're needed.
- FACT: More missing children came home safely in 2007 than any time in U.S. history, raising the recovery rate from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent in 2010.
- Step 3: Manage your impulses to control their behavior. They have to make their own mistakes and learn to fix themselves, so give them some room.
- TIP: Children don't want to be lectured, corrected, or shamed.
- Step 4: Speak to your teen in reassuring tones that show respect and reflect an intention to help in any way.
- Step 5: Back off and don't pry into their private matters. Allow them to disagree with you, and don't interrupt to make unsolicited comments.
- Step 6: Ask for clarification when your teen's behavior confuses you. Be forgiving with your their clumsy, unclear, or evasive delivery.
- Step 7: Compose yourself and prepare to contain your reactions. Use active listening skills and make eye contact.