My tween's stopped talking to me ― Help!

Should you worry if your child suddenly stops talking to you? How should you handle this change in them?

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Your kiddo and you used to be best friends. She would tell you everything, follow you everywhere, and always updated you on what was going on in her life. But recently, you’ve realised that your normally chatty tween isn’t talking as much as before. Worse, she has stopped telling you about her problems or updating you on how her day was.

When you try to talk to her, all you get is silence or very brief replies. What do you do when this suddenly happens? Don’t panic, because this is a normal adolescent occurrence. Dr Penny Tok, a chartered psychologist, states that the teenage years are all about self-discovery. “Friendships, in particular, start to play a bigger role as kids start looking outwards to forge their own identity, and social interactions become more important.”

Clinical psychologist Dr Vaani Gunaseelan adds, “Teens who feel that their parents are not accepting of their self-exploration would tend to withdraw more and may prefer to confide in friends instead.”

This usually starts happening when your child enters the teenage years. As girls develop faster, this can start from as early as 10 or 11 years old. However, if you observe that your tween is not only withdrawing from your family, but close friends as well, it might be a sign of a more serious issue. So, listen to your gut to decide if your kiddo’s sudden silent treatment is a cause for worry. Read on for possible scenarios you might have to deal with.

 

Try opening up to her first by telling her interesting or funny incidents you’ve experienced. If you open up, she is more likely to do the same.

 

1. You and your child used to be “best friends”

Your princess used to talk to you about everything under the sun, including details about her private life. You never had to dig any information from her because as soon as something happened, she would run to tell you about it. But now, she shuts you out and only opens up to her friends. Although both of you still communicate, she is not as forthcoming with details as before.

What not to do? Do not lecture or try to guilt-trip her into opening up to you. Don’t probe or stick your nose into things she isn’t willing to share with you either.

Do this instead: Engage in activities that you both enjoyed doing together before, like cycling to the beach, or window shopping. Spend time with her so that you can create opportunities for you both to talk. Try opening up to her first by telling her interesting or funny incidents you’ve experienced. If you open up, she is more likely to do the same. Dr Vaani points out that a warm parent-child relationship and showing interest in their activities and friends would encourage junior to share details of her day with you.