• Brandon Joffe, LCSW

My Child Won't Talk


So your child won’t talk about what is making them sad, making them angry, or causing them to act out. You’ve begged, pleaded, threatened, and tried to bribe information out of them. You are not alone. As a parent, your instincts tell you that there is something wrong and your child needs to talk about it. In some ways you may be right, but if you haven’t gotten them to talk yet, ask yourself if your insistence that they talk is damaging your relationship with them.

There are so many things that may cause depression, acting out, and other issues in teenagers. Many of them can be humiliating, some teens feel guilty, and others know the problem and refuse to change it. These are a few examples of instances that your child most likely will not open up. So what do you do?

First of all, if you haven’t made head way, move on and remember that your relationship with them revolves around many different things, the least of which should be their problems. You bringing light hearted conversation to their life and helping them focus on positive things will be more beneficial then hashing out and discussing the current crisis and issues.

Second, yes therapists help and are effective, but don’t treat therapy as an absolute requirement. Let them know it is available and if they are fighting it let it go for the time being. If you are struggling with their depression or acting out, seek your own therapy. In participating in your own therapy you can eventually invite them in to help you continue to grow. Them seeing that you are willing to focus on yourself and that therapy helps makes it likely that they will seek their own help.

Third, find a balance between making sure they know you observe and acknowledge issues they are experiencing without letting their issues be the only focus. You must make their issues important while addressing other children, your marriage, your hobbies, your spirituality, your friends, and your work. No teens issues become healthy because they overrun the rest of the family’s life.

Fourth, give unconditional love. Maintain your boundaries and remember that just because they are acting out or struggling doesn’t mean you have to follow them with your behavior. Yelling, tip toeing, and other extreme behaviors do not help anyone. Maintain your cool, maintain your boundaries, and remind them of your love constantly.

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