You know how it is with adolescents -- one random remark can shut them down for good and you're left talking to an empty room. We're not telling you to avoid certain subjects altogether, though. Ideally, you should be able to ask your tween about nearly everything. The art is finding the best way to approach him or her. Here's how you shouldn't do it:
- Ask rote questions: Asking your tween the same thing every single day, the exact same way, doesn't make you seem interested. It actually comes across as insincere. You know how you automatically say, "Hi, how are you?" to a co-worker or neighbor in passing? It's the same sort of thing with your tween. Eventually your tween is going to think you're not really listening if you distractedly ask the same question every afternoon.
- Ask open-ended questions: If you ask a question like, "Did you have a good time?" you'll likely receive a curt "yes" and that's it. You're more likely to elicit an honest (and interesting!) response if you phrase the question more like this: "What was your favorite moment of the party?"
- Interrupt: You hate to be interrupted -- so why would you do it to your kid? Even if you're 100 percent sure you know what your tween is going to say, interrupting comes across as disrespectful and makes it seem like you're not really interested in what your child has to say.
- Dismiss your child's feelings: Your tween's soliloquy about Justin Bieber or her long-winded explanation about how you-would-not-believe-what-Christine-said-to-me-today might seem boring and unimportant. But don't tell her that she'll "get over it" or ask him to "get to the point." Your child's feelings are very real and very deep, even if they seem silly to you.
Now we know the wrong way to talk to your tween. Next, let's talk about the right way.