How Can I Get My Child To Talk to Me?
Updated: May 12
My Child Won’t Talk To Me About Their Problems
No parent enjoys getting the silent treatment from their child. It might seem like just yesterday your child was confiding in you about all of their problems. Now you can't even get them to talk about how their day was. Don’t worry - pulling away from parents is a normal part of development (the process of individualization). Let's be honest...knowing this doesn’t mean that navigating the transition towards your child’s independence isn’t difficult. As much as they may hate to admit it, your child still needs you to help guide them throughout adolescence and to stay involved in their lives.
As painful as it may be that your used-to-be best friend has shut you out, they are doing what they are supposed to be (developmentally). During this time, children will start confiding more in their peers and begin to request more space and privacy- expect their bedroom door to be shut more often. Try not to take it personally, this is all a normal sign of gaining independence. One of the best ways to deal with this is through balance. Allow your child room to grow while still reinforcing the boundaries and guidelines that you have set. Be open to changing the boundaries as your child gets older. You don’t need to let go entirely- you are still an important guide in your child's life.
Although they might not respond to your guidance as much, your child will still look up to you as an example. Model the qualities that you want your child to practice such as good communication, kindness, and healthy habits. Although you and your child’s connection may have changed, there are still ways that you can maintain a relationship with them:
Family Meals- Scheduling a time to have a sit-down dinner with your household can help build closeness and connection. Put away electronics and allow your child the opportunity to share about their day.
Show Appreciation- Life can be busy. Make sure to praise your child's small accomplishments such as good report cards or a good soccer game.
Shift Your Communication Style- As your child gains new-found independence, the way they communicate with you may change. More and more, they will want you to treat them as an adult. This can give your child a sense of maturity, but make sure that they still respect you as an authority figure.
Listen, Don’t Lecture- When your child comes to you with problems, it may be easy to try and tell them what to do. For many children, the point of discussing challenges with their parents isn’t about problem-solving but rather, for someone to listen and support them.
Remember- your child growing away from you is not your fault. Be there as a guiding hand as they find their independence.