How to Get Your Teen to Open Up to You

6 min to read
Image of two teens together with their parents sitting on the floor enjoying a funny moment.

The teenage years are known as some of the most challenging times in a parent or guardian’s life. This is true not only for yourself but for your teen, too. From puberty to a host of new experiences, it may be overwhelming to know how to handle it all, which can sometimes cause distance between you that may not have been there before.

You may be worrying: My child doesn't tell me anything. How can I get them to open up?

Although you both are approaching uncharted territory, you have a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your teenager. Here are some common reasons why they aren't opening up and how to get your teenager to talk to you.

Why Your Teen Isn’t Talking to You

As a parent or guardian, it’s easy to feel like you’re the reason that your teenager won't talk. That is likely the furthest from the truth. Your teen may be experiencing difficulties in other areas of their life, and there are often specific issues they are facing. Take a look at some common factors that can prevent communication between you and your child.


Bullying is a serious problem. It can have devastating effects on a child’s mental well-being. With statistics revealing that 20 percent of students aged 12-18 have experienced bullying, this is something to be mindful of if your teenager has withdrawn from you. Students who are bullied may start to seek self-protection behaviors. Those behaviors can include anything from avoiding loved ones to closing off completely.

In addition, brick-and-mortar and online school students alike may be vulnerable to cyberbullying, which can occur through text messages, apps, or on social media. No matter the forum, bullying itself is a difficult issue for parents and teens to deal with. Your teenager could be embarrassed to share how they are being treated with you. 

Being bullied can cause a teenager to feel isolated and that no one understands what they’re going through. The good news is with early intervention and constant communication, you can help them push past this struggle.

Struggles with School

Another reason why your online high school student might not be talking to you is if they are struggling with school. Whether the school struggles involve their course load or social life, both can impact their attitude. 

Those struggling with academics can experience more frustration with school than their peers. Teenagers may feel like they are falling behind or consider themselves “not smart enough.” The fact of the matter is, homework in high school gets more intense and grades are important factors in college and future planning. That reality can cause feelings of pressure, insecurity, and anxiety.

For those experiencing social life worries such as difficulties making friends or dealing with cliques, their confidence may be affected. Low self-esteem can result in isolation and feeling as though they need to avoid social interactions that were previously enjoyable.

When the social and academic aspects of school become stressful, personal life can be impacted as well. After their classes for the day conclude, your teen may want to be alone to process their emotions. To add, when feeling overwhelmed, silence could be one of the only ways they know how to cope. 

By playing an active role in their education—whether that is supporting homework expectations, offering help with studying, or checking in frequently, you can help your teenager become comfortable with communicating with you.

Stress or Anxiety

In the past few years, more and more high school students have reported that they have experienced poor mental health

While stress and anxiety are common struggles most people face, these feelings can present differently in teenagers. Rather than being afraid of something external, they are likely worried about themselves. This can take the form of perfectionism or worrying about what other people think of them, including self-image concerns.

Anxious teens may start to practice avoidance behavior. If they feel like they “aren’t good enough,” they could be concerned about you judging them. They may also become defensive in conversation with you out of fear of disappointing you. 

Teenagers can be complex, and knowing how to get teens to talk may seem like a difficult task. But, there are ways you can help.

Father in a maroon shirt and son in a blue plaid shirt on a park bench in the afternoon having a conversation together.

How to Get Your Teenager to Talk to You

You probably don't know what to do when your teenager ignores you. A good place to start is with communication, empathy and engaging with them consistently. If you want to know how to get your teenager to talk to you, keep reading. 


Intentional communication from you as a parent is key to helping your online school student open up to you. In relationships, communication allows people to explain what they are feeling and what their current needs are. Effective communication can foster a positive and supportive relationship between you and your student.

If you’re feeling frustrated when communicating with your child, instead of starting with a lecture, talk to them like an adult. Ask them questions to gauge how they’re feeling. Once you get them talking, give them room to speak freely. The goal is to show them the support they need, by creating a safe space and avoiding criticizing or judging them.

For example, when teens are struggling with school, instead of punishing them for receiving a bad grade, ask them what went wrong. From there, you can get them the help they need, whether that be a tutor, extra help from their teacher or the support of a learning pod.

By starting with frequent conversations, you can start to exhibit positive parenting, which is associated with better performance in school, better behavior, and stronger mental health.

Show Empathy

If you’ve been wondering how to get your teenager to talk about their feelings, you should consider showing empathy. Think back to how you felt when you were a teenager or how you feel when you are having a rough day. On those days, you might not know how to channel what you’re experiencing emotionally.

If your child seems angry or sad, give them a chance to explain why and then encourage them that things will get better.

The biggest thing to remember when dealing with teenagers is to be kind. When you speak with kindness, you can positively impact your student’s life. Positivity can improve your child’s health, both mentally and physically.

Engage in Activities that They Enjoy

If you want to connect with your online school student, a great way is by participating in activities they enjoy. These shared experiences can help your student feel closer to you. If your child is a part of a club or extracurricular activity at Connections Academy, you can spend any free time you have learning more about their interests in their club of choice.

For example, if your child is in the poetry club, you could write poetry with them or take them to see a spoken word artist. When they see that you have a genuine interest in what matters most to them, it can make a significant impact in moving your relationship forward.

It’s common for teenagers to pull away from their parents or guardians to some degree. Before you get upset or panic, remember that they need the space, opportunity, and your support to get through it.

Growing up can be challenging, but with the right support, your online school student can see it through while opening up to you. 

For more advice on navigating the teenage years, check out these 4 tips on empowering your student to persevere.

E-guide for Connections Academy with a green background and a graphic of a laptop with the purple eGuide.

Ready to Learn More

About Connections Academy?

Explore the benefits of attending Connections Academy, a tuition-free, accredited online public school that’s passionate about helping your child thrive.  

Get Your Free eGuide


Related Posts