So how can you as a parent help your children open-up and improve conversations?
It’s natural that your children might not automatically open up to you. They are much more complicated than a parent often realizes, and as much as you are eager to hear from them, they are often not willing to share. With all of the turmoil in the world, it’s imperative to find out what your children are thinking and how they are processing the information they are seeing on the news and online. It’s important to respect the privacy of your children at times, but make sure you provide healthy and available communication where necessary.
Ideally, you need to develop mutual trust and openness. All children have different personalities, and whereas your friend’s child might be chatty non-stop, yours is simply more taciturn. The important thing is making sure you build healthy communication and improve the conversation in your family. Here are a few tips on how to encourage your kids to open up a little.
Greet them with positivity
When your kids get home from school, greet them with positivity. Don’t bombard them with questions about their day, or concerns about their homework and being late. It’s difficult sometimes, but it’s important to take a breath and be patient. You probably wouldn’t address an adult visitor like this, and children will need a little more encouragement.
Instead, greet your children with joy and tell them how happy you are to see them. Welcome them back home and later on, when they’re more relaxed, they’ll be more likely to confide in you about their day at school.
Avoid knee-jerk reactions
Avoid kneejerk judgment and scolding when your child begins to open up to you about something negative. Your children might try to avoid being reprimanded by lying. If you keep your cool and give them the space to confess, you will be able to build a more honest conversation.
Kids need to understand the consequences of their actions and not just be afraid of screaming and shouting. Building healthy communication can help you to get through to them. Discipline is one of the most difficult parts of being a parent, but with patience, you can improve the conversation between both of you.
Be a good listener
It’s challenging to always manage to give your children your full attention. As a parent, you will inevitably be pulled in different directions, and pressures from work, home life, and other family responsibilities can be overwhelming. One thing you can do is try to prioritize when you’re at home together. Try not to get distracted by the TV or your cell phone and become a better listener.
If your kids feel like they’re being listened to, even when they’re admitting having done something wrong, they’ll become a lot more comfortable speaking to you in the future. Maintain eye contact with them, and crouch down to really listen to them if need be.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes kids just still won’t open up. In certain cases, they might need time to process what they’re going through. If you don’t see any red flags, give them the time to open up. If they’re mature enough, it could be beneficial as a problem-solving task to work through things on their own from time to time.
This is often helpful for teenagers moving towards independence. Balance your desire for a conversation with recognition for their need for personal space. Always assert that you are available to talk to any time they need to. If you feel your child is going through a serious issue such as bullying or anxiety contact a professional or counselor. It’s important to recognize the signs and seek expert advice if you have any doubts or concerns.
Focus on quality time together
The more quality time you spend together, the more your child will want to confide in you. Make everyone fun and encourage them to get involved. If you’re decorating the house or their bedroom, help them come up with fun baby boy nursery ideas. Ensure they feel like a part of these experiences and conversations.
Daily and uninterrupted time together will help you form a much stronger bond. Prioritize your time together and make sure you make time for it, even though it’s a challenge with work constraints. Try to keep in mind your end goals. Painstakingly sitting through their favorite video games and be patient with their ups and downs will be worth it. They will really appreciate the time together.
Ask specific questions
Learn to avoid asking questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Questions like, “Are you ok?” probably won’t go down that well, and you’ll probably just get a reluctant “yeah”. Instead, ask specific details and make the effort to remember them. Ask about their latest school projects or films or TV shows they might have mentioned.
The only problem with this is that they’ll always have the option to respond with a vague, “I dunno”, but at least you’ll be making an effort on your part to show an interest in the details. Hopefully, they’ll become more and more willing to disclose some of these.
Younger kids often don’t like serious questions. It’s a common problem and you could even consider some fun, get to know you questions. This will open up their imagination and make them more interested in the conversation. Children ask a lot of questions so ask some back in return and get them thinking.
Model healthy communication
Children are always learning from you and other adults, so it’s important to lead by example. Even though it’s hard, you’ll need to be the one to lead the mature conversation. Open up about your feelings to them as well. Let them know how much being able to talk to them meant to you.
Try to maintain healthy conversations with your partner or other family members in front of them as an example. Teach them how to communicate and feel more comfortable doing so.
Next time you’re waiting for your child to finally open up to you, be patient, and try these strategies. Parenting is challenging sometimes but you need to be the leader of the conversation and the grown-up. The results will be rewarding.