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Here’s the thing. It’s not that tweens (boys in particular) don’t want to talk. They just don’t know how. Their brains are still developing and they just need to be taught how to open-up. To get you thinking, here’s 10 ways to Talk with a Tween Boy that will TOTALLY work, if you give them a try!
I’m kinda unsteady on my feet when it comes to conversation with my kiddo. He’s a tough nut to crack. But that’s why I try really really hard to be on-top of how I talk to him…maybe we’ll survive the teen-years.
- Ask open-ended questions. Don’t stick with the standard junk–be creative! Ask what they did in art class–not how their day was…If it can be answered in one word–he’ll find a way to do it. So, try to be creative. I pick on Art class because that’s his favorite, but sometimes I just ask what he had for lunch (and when he frustratedly-asks why I’m obsessed with what he eats, I laugh and tell him I’m just a mom…) or to tell me any new jokes he learned. And if I hiccup and let him slip-by with a single-word convo-killer, I just try again with a new twist…
- Don’t reserve your talks for “TALKS”. If you can manage it, try to have a real, serious conversation lat least three to four times a week. That way when it comes to a big-deal, you’ve got a way in already.
- Use a distraction. Games are AMAZING for this…particularly the right video games. Movies and TV shows don’t really work, but because you take turns in games just like you do in conversation, it’s a perfect way to shadow a conversation. But you have to pick the right games. Board games can work, but its better if you can meld something boys love (video games) with the taking-turns and rhythm of a conversation. Take the Hasbro Channel on our PS3–there’s an awesome Monopoly Plus game where you take turns buying the world and having fun…aaaaaannd chat about what he thinks is nothing at all. He never has to know we’re having a conversation! We do this like almost every week and it’s a blast.
- Give them a reason to be there. Food can be the best “come-hither” draw to a conversation. I like popcorn with our Monopoly…works well.
- Bring a friend. Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, I hate being put on the spot and so does my son. It’s better if someone else is there, too. Like dad, grandad or if I’m desperate, a friend. ANYBODY will do. Even the dog…
- Don’t beat around the bush. You don’t like it when other people tip-toe around what they want, don’t treat your boy-o like that either. Remember, this is a teaching moment, too!
- Model good conversation with another adult. Kids are always listening. If you talk with dad or granny or whoever, like you want him to talk with you, he’ll hear it and be able to see how works. Sometimes, it’s just the mechanics of things that boys need help with. Not the desire.
- Pick your battles–but don’t let them win…unless they really win. Conversations aren’t a battle, not really. Read these words again. If he thinks he’s an equal in the conversation, which he should be, then he’s going to be far more chatty.
- Give them a chance to talk. Conversation is all about taking turns (SEE ABOVE). Give your little man a turn. He might surprise you and take it. Sometimes, you just have to open with: “Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” I’d even get a hand-signed invitation from the President if I had to in order to get my bud to chat-it-up.
- If there’s EVER a slip of “Mom…” LISTEN. This is so very very important. If he starts it, it’s important to him…give him a chance to talk. This sometimes happens when we’re playing our video games on Friday nights, especially if I’ve stopped talking, given him a moment to think…so I’ve just let it happen organically. That’s when we have the BEST conversations.