How to get your teen to open up to you when you know they’re hiding something

As we all know, every teen tends to keep at least one secret from their parent on occasion.

Although little secrets can often be a natural and healthy part of growing up, sometimes, if it’s a particularly worrying one, it can do your child more harm than good to keep it bottled up.

The older they get, the less likely they are to open up to you - it’s just a fact of life. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage them to talk to you!

If you can sense that your teen is harbouring a secret that is eating away at them, then there are ways for you to help them without making them feel like you’re pestering them.

Below, we have set out our ultimate ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ list for those times when you want your child to speak their mind, but in their own time, too. Have a look through these top tips and see if any of these might help your situation:

DO create a safe space

First and foremost, it’s crucial for you to give your teen a safe space for them to feel comfortable in. This can be a place in their bedroom, the family living room, or even the kitchen table. If home life is tricky and chaotic, then perhaps a different safe space - such as a nearby park or their favourite café - could help, too. At the end of the day, your child should be able to feel free to talk about their stresses.

DON’T be nosey

This one is a tricky point because it can sometimes feel like snooping is necessary as a last resort. We know it’s tempting - especially when your teen won’t tell you what’s going on - but realistically, this step always backfires in the end. So, try to respect their space as much as you can, particularly when it comes to their text messages or diary entries.

DO let them know they’re special

When it comes to teens, they just want to know that you respect them and love them for who they are. Being a teenager can be a really challenging time, and so they need someone to lean on throughout all of the difficult times. Treat them to their favourite activity - whether it be going to see a film, spending an afternoon shopping, playing their favourite sport or simply going for some tea and a slice of cake. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant - just show them that you care, and eventually, they will be more willing to open up to you.

DON’T pester them

Let’s face it, teens can be just as stubborn as adults! This stubborn trait can mean that if you pester them with too many questions, they will feel less inclined to open up to you. Instead, ease off on the interrogating for a bit, especially if you feel like you aren’t making any progress with them. Give them the breathing space that they need, and hopefully, this will then encourage them to come to you on their own and address their worries.

DO speak to the other grown-ups in their life

Similar to respecting their privacy, this can be a difficult way to navigate the situation, but it could be a helpful one. If your teen is particularly stressed or anxious, then there is a chance that they have opened up to another adult that isn’t you. This could be another family member, a teacher or an after-school activity leader. Reach out to the most important adults in your kid’s life and ask them if they have noticed anything different about your child recently.

DON’T judge them

Whatever your teen is feeling worried about, it’s possible that the reason why they aren’t opening up to you is because they feel like you will judge or scold them. Of course, this is entirely dependent on each teen’s situation, but for the most part, you should let your child know that they can speak to you in a judgement-free zone. Everyone makes mistakes occasionally, but it’s how we correct those mistakes that truly matters!