How do I encourage some conversation in our home?
I continue to use your strategies from the online book. We continue to have fewer and less intense discussions with our son. In fact, they happen very rarely now.
The issue we still struggle with is getting him to open up and communicate with us. An example, last night he worked. Typically his shift is from 4 pm to ~ 9 pm. He came home ~8:30. After saying hello, I asked "I'm surprised to see you this early. Weren't you busy tonight?" His reply was a one-word answer, "No". I do realize that I didn't form the question the correct way and I allowed him the option of a one-word answer. But in trying to keep the conversation going, all I got were grunts and more one-word answers.
Mark, on a typical day, if we hear 50 words from him we are lucky. There is very little conversation at the dinner table when we eat together and like last night, many of the conversations end with me running out of things to talk about and him going on his way to something he wants to do.
How do I encourage some conversation in our home? He has never been much of a talker, even before all of the behavior problems started.
I don't think you have a problem here. He's not much of a conversationalist, but that's o.k.
I wouldn't try to squeeze words out of him. Don't assume that "few words" = "hidden problems."
Try to match to him. In other words, keep conversations short on your end too. In this way, you will (a) send a message that you are indeed interested in what is going on in his life, and (b) avoid giving him the impression that he is not divulging enough information.
It sounds like he simply does not need a lot of "parent time." I wouldn't take this personally.
The Strong-Willed Out-of-Control Teen
The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing teens with serious behavioral problems. Disrespect, anger, violent rages, self-injury, running away from home, school failure, hanging-out with the wrong crowd, drug abuse, theft, and legal problems are just some of the behaviors that parents of defiant teens will have to learn to control.
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