My Teen Stopped Talking to Me – What Can I Do?

Teenagers closing down lines of communication with their parents and siblings is a tale as old as time. It’s not uncommon, nor is it something that you should interpret as a reflection of your ability to parent or bond with your teen.

For parents who have been there, you’ll know how painful it can be to extract the smallest insights into your teenager’s school and personal life. And while this period can be difficult for parents, it’s important to remember that teens are in the midst of a journey of self-discovery and hormonal changes that can leave them feeling out of sorts.

For parents that are in the midst of being shut out by their teen, or those that are looking for preventative action plans, we want to shed some light on how you can combat and overcome the communication blackout with your teen.

Why Do Teens Stop Talking?

For many parents, the communication breakdown with their once open and expressive child can be difficult to reconcile. In what may seem like an overnight switch, children can go from being excited to tell you about their every undertaking, to being closed off and impossible to reach.

For parents, it’s difficult not to take things personally. This can be especially true when your child seems to reserve their energy and attention for friends.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, the first thing that you need to understand is that you are not alone. While it can be hard to connect with your teen right now, it’s worth remembering that you probably went through this very same phase while you were their age.

There is no one reason why your teen has stopped talking to you. For any person, their teenage years are a formative time in their lives where they slowly begin to become independent. In doing so, they practise skills that will help them in later life. For parents, it’s important to recognise that this isn’t forever – this is simply a stage in their development.

Some of the most common reasons why teens stop talking to their parents include:

  • They are beginning to form their own identity
  • They are practising independence and self-reliance
  • They are navigating complex hormonal changes
  • They are beginning to form their own, independent opinions
  • They are navigating complex friendships
  • They are facing challenges at school
  • They are dealing with new feelings associated with romantic connections
  • They feel that you, as parents, are encroaching on their privacy by asking questions
  • They feel like they are not being heard or seen as a young adult

As a parent of a teen, there are steps that you can take to actively encourage communication and navigate some of these challenges. And while there are things that you can do to ensure lines of communication stay open with your teen, it’s important to remember that your child is developing their own identity. As a parent, your relationship will inevitably change – coming to grips with this is one of the most important things that you can do during this stage.

Is It Common for Teens to Close Down on Communication?

Yes. It is normal that teens and adolescents communicate less about what is going on in their lives during their formative years into a young adult.

The teenage years are marked by a period of rapid change. In a few short years, your child may go from constantly seeking approval and attention, to craving freedom. This push for autonomy in decision- making can often lead to a decrease in communication, making the teenage years difficult for parents. Communication with teens requires new considerations which can often cause conflict and stress as both parents and teens navigate these changes.

For parents, it’s important to acknowledge and accept that your teen will begin to develop their own ideas, beliefs, and values that may differ from your own. While it might be hard, it’s important that parents adapt and learn to give their child more freedom to learn about themselves during this time. As a parent, the most important thing to do is keep the lines of communication open during this time.

Separating Teen Behaviour from Worrying Behaviour

During their teenage years, your child will embark on a journey of self-discovery – constantly pushing boundaries to explore their identity and independence. From the outside perspective of a parent, these behaviours can be difficult to understand.

While many of these behaviours fall within the realm of typical teenage behaviour, it’s important to understand the distinction between regular teen behaviour, and behaviours that may signal deeper issues that need attention. Persistent changes to mood or, appetite, withdrawal from social activities, a slump in school performance, and withdrawal from the activities that once made them happy are all signs that your teen may need help. These signs may indicate deeper mental health concerns including depression and anxiety.

Creating a supportive environment where your teen feels valued and understood is the key to keeping lines of communication open while distinguishing between typical behaviour and potential warning signs that require intervention. If you feel that your teen needs help, consider seeking professional counselling support.

Strategies for Dealing with a Teen Who Stops Talking to You

Teens need their own space, but what happens when they completely close you out? There are a number of strategies that parents can use to keep lines of communication open and encourage a healthy discord around difficult topics.

  • Listen more than you speak
  • Offer unconditional love
  • Practise forgiveness and apologise when wrong
  • Establish mutual respect
  • Resist the urge to lecture/speak-down
  • Let your child know that you love them
  • Validate the way that your teen is feeling and practise empathy
  • Seek professional support to enable open communication

When your teen stops talking to you, this isn’t necessarily a reflection of your parenting. Your teen is going through a period of rapid change that can be difficult to navigate. While they will never be that young child that they used to be, this period is an essential step towards independence.

As a parent, it’s important to put the health and well-being of your child above all else and maintain consistent communication, even when things become difficult. Remember, seeking professional help or intervention isn’t a sign of failure. If you’re unable to get through this by yourself, consider speaking to a professional (either alone or with your teen) to help navigate through your challenges.  

New Vision Psychology has more than 30 highly qualified psychologists who treat teens, parents and families. We offer individual and family counselling across five locations – Sydney CBD, Hurstville, Burwood, Chatswood and Castle Hill. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, Bengali, Hindi, Afrikaans, Norwegian and Croatian. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you and your teen.

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