Do you often struggle to instigate REAL conversation with your kids?
As parents, we desperately want to know everything – how they are feeling, what they are thinking, what their troubles are – but when it comes to the crunch, we often find it hard to really CONNECT.
If it’s school you particularly want to know about, check out 25 ways to ask your kids how school was today.
But if you’re still struggling to get some good conversation happening in everyday life, here are some top tips, inspired by Simple Simon and Company, for communicating with kids, no matter what age.
Ultimately, you know your child best so if you know that they’re more interested in going outside to play when they get home from school than talking to you, wait until a little later. Tune into their world, it’s all about trial and error in finding a time when your child is the most responsive.
Creating an opportunity that is likely to support a good conversation can be really easy. As easy as asking your child to come and help you run errands, the car is a great place for a chat. Or you could even try setting up a lunch date!
Particularly when it comes to teens and talking about sensitive topics, it can often be more effective if you try to start a conversation over a task where you don’t need to make eye contact. These tasks could be something like making dinner, folding the laundry or washing the car. Avoiding eye contact encourages teens to open up without feeling vulnerable; they’re likely to say more if they don’t have to make eye contact.
When your child calls out and wants to talk to you and you respond with an irritated ‘yes’ or you look at them as though you really don’t have time, of course, your kids aren’t going to come to you for advice when they need it.
It’s easy to want a child to respond straight away after you’ve asked them a question, but if they don’t, just give them time. Often it may take minutes or sometimes days for a child to come back to you. Give them the opportunity to come back to you after they’ve thought about it a little.
This can be easier said than done but try not to overreact if your child tells you something that may shock you, otherwise they probably won’t ever want to come to you again. Let the information sink in, take a deep breath, stay calm and then approach the conversation.
Sometimes it’s helpful to share how you’re feeling with your children too. Let them know about your day at work, what you are working on, what’s happening in your life. Share your own experiences with them too; it’s good for them to be able to relate to their parent.
Perhaps your child comes to you to talk right when your favourite TV program starts. Press record on the program and be there to listen.
With technology today, kids and communication are a little different. Perhaps your child likes to text, email or use Facebook. Try communicating with them in their world. Send them regular text message, emails or private Facebook messages (not on their Facebook wall, that could be very embarrassing!).
It can often be difficult to hold long conversations with kids. Try not to expect too much from a conversation and if you need to, continue the conversation over the course of a few days.
When a child really needs to vent about something, just let them talk and you listen.
Showing a genuine interest in your child’s interests can really help with communication.
If your child is trying to talk to you but you are busy on Instagram or Pinterest, they are instantly going to feel as though they are less important. Turn off the technology and have the conversation.
When your child confides in you, you must keep that confidence intact. Provide support even if their problems or worries seem minor to you. To them, it’s huge.
If anything, simply try to live in the present when it comes to communicating with your child. Listen to them when they talk and avoid having your focus elsewhere. Be interested in what they have to say instead of wishing you were doing something else. And with a little effort we can ensure we are always able to support them when they need it the most.