21 Aug 2014
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Conversation Starters with Teens

Getting past "Are you doing your homework?"

Conversation Starters with Teens

Question: Is your only conversation with your child; “It’s dinner time,” or “Are you doing your homework?”

Many conversations I have with my clients include the above questions and the below issues.


Your child comes home from school. They go to their room and shut the door. Only to be seen to ask the question, “What’s for dinner?” And the parent asks, “Are you doing your homework.”

How do you correct this situation? How can you regain a relationship with your child that seems to have disappeared? Clearly, the above is unacceptable to a parent. Certainly, you want to have a communicative relationship with your child.

If you work backwards and remember how you communicated with your child and how they communicated with you, can you pinpoint a time when the conversations began to disintegrate?


  • If you have younger children, be cognizant of your relationship during the formative years. What works?
  • Open door policy at any age; your child should feel comfortable to communicate with their parents.
  • Experts say that it goes with the territory; some teens shut down, and become closed and have no interest in sharing their lives.
  • Of course, when the going gets tough the kiddies know exactly where to go ... you! So be on the alert. Use this time to your advantage, allow them to communicate and explain to them, “We are here for you all the time, any time.”
  • Insist on a family night; dinner with the immediate family, dinner with extended family, or movie night.
  • I hear some of you saying “my son or daughter would never go out with us.” Time to make some changes then!

Finally, it is imperative to establish a relationship with your child early on. Take into consideration that each child is an individual and your expectations for each child may differ.

As they grow older and their independence becomes more evident, it’s time to retain the close bond and communication you created when they were younger. Just like anything else we want in life, it takes some work to accomplish our goals.

This one is worth the effort -- tenfold!

Vicki Kalmus is a certified teacher and writer on ways students and parents organize their time and improve study techniques. Even the brightest of students can lose their way. She lives in Livingston and writes her columns with all ages of students in mind.

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