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Some of the same parents who complain that their child doesn’t seem to communicate with them will stand by cluelessly as their kid is doing everything short of sticking a sign in their face saying that they want to talk. So if you notice any of the following behaviors, there’s a pretty good chance something is on their mind that they’d like to talk about:

  1. He hangs around where you’re at without saying much of anything.

  1. Wanting to take a trip somewhere without really giving a viable reason for why.

  1. A teen wants to accompany you on an errand and volunteers to ride with you. Many teens like this strategy because it gives them a chance to talk to you alone, yet because you’re semi-involved in other tasks (driving, shopping, etc.) they don’t feel as self-conscious. It’s not as awkward as sitting on the couch and staring at each other.

  1. Trying to get other people out of the room/house so that she has you alone.

  2. She wants you to watch a television show or movie with her. She’s looking to assess your reactions to it and hoping to start up a conversation about the subject matter somewhere in the film.

  3. Making a casual reference to a particular problem in everyday conversation.

Signs that something is bothering your child that they need to talk about:

  1. A child wants to stay home with you and says she doesn’t feel well, yet there doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with her.

  1. He or she makes complaints of illness while at school so you’ll have to come pick them up, though there doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong.

If a child says “It’s no big deal”
Many kids (and teens especially) start off a request for conversation by saying something like, “It’s no big deal,” or “It’s not really that important.” Don’t believe this disclaimer. As Rosalind Wiseman points out, “If she actually wants to talk to you, she’s already telling you that she thinks it’s a big deal. Anytime your teen daughter wants to talk, drop everything and pay attention.” (Wiseman, 2009, p. 60)

You should also remember that the first issues a child raises may not be what is really troubling her–they’re merely a way of testing your receptiveness and your response. So stay attentive, be non-judgmental, and make your child feel relaxed.

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