Can't get your teen to talk to you? Try these therapist-recommended tips.

Getting kids, especially teens, to talk to you can be challenging, even awkward.

Licensed therapist Jody Baumstein with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Strong4Life program says you may feel uncomfortable, at least at first.

"And, just because it's uncomfortable doesn't mean it's bad," Baumstein says.  "It's just unfamiliar. But, the more you make that routine, the less threatening it is."

Start, Baumstein says, by asking open-ended questions.

"(Ask) 'What was your favorite part of the day? What was something hard? What was the funniest thing that happened?'" she says.

Once your child answers, reflect what you are hearing.

"Sometimes, we want to take the conversation somewhere else," Baumstein says. "But, if your goal is to get them to open up, we need to create a safe space for that. So, just repeating back what you hear: 'Oh, it sounds like this was the funniest thing that happened. What did you enjoy about it?'"

If your teen says something you did not expect or something that catches you off-guard, Baumstein says, resist the urge to react or try to fix things.

It is a natural reaction, she says, to want to make things better.

"We see somebody we love maybe struggling, and we want to take away their pain," Baumstein says.  "However, we have to step back and remember: my job is not to fix their feelings. My job is to help them through it."

Baumstein says, let your teen talk through their situation and possible solutions.

"We want to make sure that we are not going into these things like, 'Oh, don't worry about it, it's going to be fine,' which is very dismissive and minimizing because that doesn't make them feel better. It just makes them feel alone in it, and makes them shut down, because now we've told them that feeling is not okay."

Try to validate and normalize what they are saying, Baumstein says, and focus on listening, not talking.

"We are uncomfortable with listening because sometimes we feel like I'm not doing enough, like maybe I should say more," she says. "But, we know when somebody isn't listening.  It feels terrible, and teens are no different. They tell us all the time, 'I just want adults to hear me. I just want to be heard.'"

If you feel like you are hitting a wall, she says, do not force a conversation, but circle back to it.

You may want to try asking again in a less intimidating situation, like while you are riding in the car or playing a game together.

The key, Baumstein says, is to keep trying, and keep talking.

"We cannot expect them to engage in these conversations, if it's not normal and familiar," Baumstein says.  "So, make it routine. Model it yourself. You can't expect them to talk about feelings if you never do."