How do you deal with a secretive teenager?

How do you reach out to an emotionally distant teen?

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Parents often find themselves at a loss when their kids get older, and the sweet child they had once known transforms into a moody and withdrawn teenager. One theAsianparent Community user asked the community about how they deal with teenagers who suddenly become secretive:

It’s normal for teens to be distant, as many from the theAsianparent Community community said. As your teen becomes more independent, he will sometimes act secretive and withdrawn. This understandably worries parents, but remember that this is just a phase. Maintain open communication lines and be patient.

Give her space

You might be tempted to crowd your teen and pester her to spend more time with you and the family. But oftentimes, this will only push her away even more.

“What you should do is tell your teen that you will always be there for them if they need you, and that you're open to conversations with them,” Jan A.B. wrote. “What you shouldn't do is snoop around and read their texts, or check their Facebook accounts etc. It's important to give your teen some room for privacy.”

“Do not force her or coax her into doing things or do not appear too inquisitive,” Shruti B. said. “You can perhaps go on a holiday with her and spend your time chatting, having fun, and — instead of talking about her issues — have discussions on random topics. Then, you will have an idea of what is her state of mind and what is her thought process.”

Listen

It’s especially important for parents of teens to learn how to listen to their children instead of lecturing. Teenagers who withdraw from their parents often do so because they feel like their parents won’t be able to understand. Invite them to open up to you. They might not take you up on it all the time. But when they do, make it count by actively listening.

“As a parent of two preteens, I always tell them to share their ideas, pains, and successes with me, and that I’m always here to support them,” Toni F. wrote. “If in any case that they might have made wrong decisions, I'm always here to guide them to the right solution.”

Be observant

Most teens become withdrawn because of normal problems like issues with friends or academics. But sometimes the problems can be more serious, like alcohol, drugs, bullying, and depression. Pay attention to who your teen is friends with, and what they’re interested in.

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“There are many other things at this stage so it is not bad to be a little vigilant,” added Shruti B. “Keep a tab on whom she talks to, her friends, or if she is on social sites, follow her posts and what she likes.”