Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Conversation Starters VS Conversation Stoppers

Zits Cartoon for Jul/29/2014

This may be your version of conversations with your teen:

            YOU                           YOUR TEEN

"How was your day?"                   Fine

"What did You do?"                     Nothing

"Did you like camp?"                    Yes or No, or it was OK

"Did you have fun?"                         Yes

What are doing today/tonight?          Don't know

Is Everything OK                                It's fine!!!!!!!!

These are such unsatisfying interactions for parents. What you are craving for, dying for, down on your knees begging for, is some small nugget, some essence of what your teen's life is really like. Asking yes/no questions won't get you there. I guarantee it!

Here is some conversation openers. But timing is everything. If your teen has just woken up, just walked in the door or gotten into the car with you, beware! Teens need time to make transitions between sleepiness and wakefulness, friends and home or work and home. Remember when they were babies, and they had just woken from a nap and were cranky, or you took them to a family party, and they clung to your legs until they got acclimated...well it's kinda the same thing now. Give them some time to acclimate to the change in scenery before you try to engage them in conversation. And when you do.....

  • Don't ask a yes/no question unless that is the kind of answer you are looking for.

  • Using starters like How was.... are too easy to be answered with a one word grunt. (see above)

  • Try starting with a "tell me about.." but with something more specific than general. For example: "So tell me, what's your favorite part of the day at camp/job? I know when I had my first job, I used to love..... VS How was your day?" Give them an example of the kind of information you are looking for. Honestly many teens have a hard time distilling all the imput from their day and putting it into words. That's usually why they give you the one-word answers like "fine"

  • Start with a statement rather than a question. For example: God, you are taking so many different classes this year, so much work, which homework is easiest to get started with? VS How much homework do you have?
As you know from watching two many bad interviews on television getting someone to open up is an artform. Just ask Oprah or Barbara Walters!

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