Editor’s Note: I tried this on my 16 year old daughter who is often a closed book. My usual tactics include asking, “what’s wrong?” when she snaps at her sister or grunts at me when I ask her to come for dinner. After reading this article, I thought I’d try this new approach, and it worked. We chatted for hours, hugged, and I learned so much about her life outside the home. I highly recommend the tips.

Are you tired of the eye-rolling and the door slamming?
Perhaps your teenager spends 90% of their time in their room?
Maybe you’re worried about them – but they just won’t open up to you?
As a parent, you just want to know that your kids are OK; and to find out how they are getting on – you ask questions.BUT – Are you asking the right questions?
Thing is, your teenagers, need their space. So although your intentions are well intentioned, they might not be very well timed.
So what can you do for the best?
I have a wonderful exercise for ALL of you : 
It’s Called 3 QUESTIONS and it’s designed for :
Parents – to help you understand what’s going for your kidsTeenagers  – to offer the least amount of information whilst keeping Parents happy!The Whole Family – by removing the “atmosphere” in the house and helping you all to start enjoying each other’s company again.
I promise you – You wont regret it.
Just a couple of Pointers though ..

  • Explain this technique to your teen before you start
  • Use this exercise once a day (overuse, loses it’s impact)
  • You have to abide by the rules

So here goes : 

  1. What’s Your Number?

You are looking for an answer, on a sliding scale between 1 – 10.

1 = Awful, Really Bad, Suicidal …

10 =  Brilliant, On top of the World …

The beauty of this is that kids understand this rating really easily. It is a very quick way of working out HOW your child is feeling – right now.

Remember however that each child has a different scale – so do not compare.

With regular use – you get to understand your teenager’s ‘norm’.2. What’s Your Word?

You are looking for a DESCRIBING word.

Something that expresses how your teenager is feeling at the minute.

You want the word to paint a picture of their emotions and feelings.

Angry, Furious, Betrayed, Embarrassed, Stressed …

Happy, Optimistic, Hopeful, Proud, Excited …

The more descriptive the better. Don’t accept “fine” or “crap”. This doesn’t say much. This is a great way of building your child’s emotions intelligence. Getting in touch of how they are really feeling. Again, this gives you an insight into their frame of mind that they are currently in.
3. Do You Want to Talk?

This is the deal breaker! It does exactly what it says on the tin!

If your child want’s to talk – great!  Sit down and chat with them.
If your child does not want to talk … BACK OFF !

9 times out of 10 the answer will be No! You have to respect their answer.

What is genius about this – is that your child has the control. This is what they need right now. This gives your child the space to process their own stuff.

The delightful message behind this question is that it says to your child “I’ve Got Your Back.”

“When you are ready – I am here for you.”But please bear in mind … If your child says : YES … don’t pounce!

Ask them – Is now the right time to talk? Do not scare them away with your eagerness to talk with them. Perhaps they would prefer to go for a walk or a drive? 

What you may also find is that they spend less time in their room and more time in the family space. This is because they know they will not be questioned to within an inch of their life!

There are HUGE Benefits for EVERYONE : 

  • Parents start to understand their teenager better.
  • This exercise acts as an ‘early warning system’. Parents get to spot mood changes and possible problems earlier.
  • Parents have peace of mind that they are going to get a daily snapshot of how their teenager is feeling each day.
  • Communication opens up naturally – given time.
  • There are fewer arguments – because the teenager is feeling less ‘micromanaged’ and more supported.
  • Parents start spending more quality time with their teenager.
  • The teenager’s sanctuary turns from their room – into their home.
  • The teenager becomes more at ease in expressing their feelings
  • Relationships start to strengthen because deeper connection is being built – by starting off with fewer words!

This is a technique that teenagers LOVE.

Because (no offence) it gets parents off their back!

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I am a best-selling author of the TEEN Toolbox™, keynote speaker and parenting expert, specialising in adolescence. It is My Mission : To Help parents Support their Children; so that Together we can Build a Mentally Healthier and Happier Generation of Young People. I specialise in supporting parents and teenagers who are navigating adolescence. I am available to provide comment and expertise on a range of topics including, school exams, supporting the transition from school to university and coping with self harm & mental health issues.