As your child moves from elementary school to junior high and high school, you may start to feel like you don’t know what’s going on in their lives anymore. After all, they are spending time outside of school with their friends and teens are not exactly known for their expressive communication. However, it is crucial that you keep up with your tween and teen so that you can support them through the rather tumultuous years of adolescence.

If you are like most parents, you desperately want to connect with your teen but you aren’t quite sure how to do it now that they are growing in their independence. Fortunately, it just takes the right question to start up a meaningful conversation for both of you. Here are some starters that could inspire you during your next car ride, walk, or dinner together.

How Can I Help You?

Teens are stressed out, and they can quickly feel isolated or helpless as their obligations build. If you take time to ask how you can help, instead of offering ways to fix their situation, you may find they are looking for different kinds of support. While you may be ready to talk about time management systems, your teen may actually just want their favorite meal. Or, you may be ready with specific ways to shut down a bully at school when they would like you to go with them to talk with the teacher. Let them take the lead by voicing how you can help, and then follow through.

What’s the Best Thing That Happened Today?

Instead of asking “how was your day” after school or around the dinner table, create a more meaningful discussion by asking about the best thing that happened. You can swap out the superlative too, by asking about something frustrating, confusing, joyful, reassuring, or even silliest thing that happened during the day. Break the ice by going first and having everyone give their answer as well.

What’s Going Well Right Now?

Teenagers can sometimes feel overwhelmed by confusing things that are happening in their lives. You can catch a glimpse into what is important to them right now, or what they are proud of, by asking what is going well. It doesn’t have to be something huge to be meaningful, so be sure you are celebrating with them no matter their answer.

How Can I Show You I Love You?

Finally, ask your teen how you can best show that you love and care for them. Some teens can feel loved by simply hearing it, but others feel loved when you send them with their favorite lunch or cheer loudly at their basketball game. Their answer may surprise you!