STRATEGIES TO HAVE YOUR KID TALK TO YOU
Most children cannot stop talking when they are in preschool. In elementary school, many start to clam up with their parents. Once in high school, only 22% still talk openly to their parents about their personal issues. But, there are strategies to have your child talk to you.
Here are a few of them:
1. Ask non-judgmental and open-ended questions to open conversation. For instance, instead of asking how school was today, say to your child “What was the best thing about school today?” or “How did the soccer game go at recess?” Use questions that start with why cautiously as these questions often make children defensive. Say “What makes you say that?” instead of “Why did you say that?”
2. Refrain from jumping in with solutions and advice. First, children need to vent whatever they are experiencing, then they need to get a chance to figure out their own solutions. This contributes to develop their self-confidence. Our role is to help them reflect on their own feelings and brainstorm solutions.
3. Be aware of the way you initiate contact. Our children are often very busy between school, homework, and after school activities. Once they reach puberty, the hormones kick in and parents can go low on their list. It is often because they take us for granted and know they can rely on us. So, when you would like to spend time with your child, use “I statements” that help you express your wishes. For instance, say “Next weekend, I would like us to do some activities together. How about going to the park or to the museum? What do you think?” instead of saying “You never ask me to do anything together these days”.
4. Stay available. When you are ready to talk does not mean that your child is. When children feel a pressure to talk, they clam up. If as a parent, you are a good listener and make yourself available when your child is ready to talk, then they will open up when something is on their mind. Simply being in the same room and doing something such as folding the laundry together or cooking a meal may create an opportunity to start a conversation.
By focusing on your child’s emotional needs and making yourself available in a non-judgmental way, your child is likely to come talk to you about what is happening with her.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.