How to get your "remote" teen talking—to you.

The COVID weekly routine of in-school learning, remote, or a mixture of both has many parents worried their high school teen isn't dealing well with school or relationships during the pandemic. Is every answer to any question you ask your teenager “fine” or “nothing”? One perk to COVID isolation, for me, has been extra time with my teen. I've found that if you ask your teen a question that can be answered by a “yes” or a “no,” that's probably all you're going to get. 

So, from one parent to another, I encourage you to try asking some of the questions listed below and then … LISTEN.

What do you think has changed the most in your life due to COVID? What do you miss most about going to school? What do you not miss at all?

Not going to school five days a week really changes a teen's life. Seniors especially are missing what they thought would be a very "defined" milestone year. Their social structure has been completely rearranged and if you want to know how your teen is feeling, fill those at-home breaks with fun conversation. 

What do you think your friends would say are your top three qualities? Your three worst? 

This question will give you insight into what your teen actually thinks about themselves. According to the Center for Parent and Teen Communication, “Adolescent identity is developed, in part, based on relationships and feedback received from others. As young people move from early to late adolescence and their brains continue to develop, their adolescent identity is also likely to change."

What was the best part of your day? What was the worst part of your day?

One of the worst questions you can ask your teen—if you are hoping for a decent answer anyway—is "how was your day or what’s new?" Usually, “fine" and "nothing” are likely to come as answers. A teenager can usually automatically tell you the worst part of their day and it’s fun to think of the best or funniest part.

Who is your funniest teacher? Who is your favorite teacher? Who is your least favorite teacher? 

Want to know how a class is going? Ask about your student’s teacher, not how they are doing in the class. Teens that dislike a teacher, usually dislike the class. Asking who their favorite person and least favorite person in each class will also give you some insight into what goes on during their days at school. Your teenager doesn't want to answer the "How are you doing in that class?" question every day. 

No limits. What is your fantasy dream job if you had to start doing it tomorrow?

We all want to know what our teenagers are thinking as life goals and what they might want to do as a career. It is so hard as a parent not to push your child in a direction that you feel will benefit them, even if it doesn't match their personality. Teens feel constantly judged by their teachers, their friends, and if they are seniors, college admissions, so they don’t want to be judged by the people they want to please the most—their parents. At 16 and 17, teens shouldn’t have to decide what they are going to do as career for the rest of their lives, but they are constantly bombarded with questions about what college they think they might be interested and what major. Let them dream and have fun with it. Let them know dreams can change. Let your teen take the lead, and ask them to ask you some questions. Then answer!

How do you get your teenager to open up? Let us know in comments.