Starting conversations with children can be a difficult task, and sometimes as parents, we really want to do our best to keep an open line of communication. Sometimes getting kids to talk could seem like prying, or nagging which often becomes overwhelming, causing children to shut down and shut parents out.
We all want to be the parents that have children who just come over and start talking, but even the warmest and open family can have some communication heartaches.
Remember that sometimes it takes time to build relationships with children, even if they are your own. When kids go through changes and make new friends, and sometimes that means they have to learn to trust you to listen to them all over again.
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Getting Kids To Talk Effortlessly
Creating bonds with your children starts from the first moment you become a parent. The more you practice these tips that I’ve outlined below, the more your children will want to be open with you.
It is important to create a home environment that promotes positive conversation which in turn creates good communication.
Don’t React, Respond
When you are faced with some news or an event that has you wanting to boil over, practice some self-control and try responding instead of reacting.
This is one of the hardest things to do.
Because children will often mimic your actions, it is important to be a proper role model if you want to see the same behaviour from them.
Even though in the toughest moments you may feel explosive and reactive, it is so important to remain calm, warm and gentle so that you can meet the psychological demands that children require to feel safe and sound.
Listen And Allow Room For Them To Talk More Than You
Giving children room to speak without interrupting them with your own thoughts and opinions will help create that trust for future conversations where they need to feel safe speaking about something important.
The thing about conversation is that listening is just as important as talking. You’ll want to be sure to have great listening skills so that your children feel comfortable starting conversations with you.
Sometimes listening to children talk can be a chore, I get that. They can go on and on about what may seem like the silliest thing…but to them, this is important so be sure to create a positive, open and warm environment so that your children feel comfortable talking to you about anything and everything.
Of course, feedback and conversation is encouraged. You don’t want your child to feel like they are talking to a brick wall, but you can provide feedback when your child has finished talking and is ready to listen.
Listen Without Distractions
If your child is wanting to have an important conversation with you, it is best to eliminate distractions in your environment.
Sometimes that could mean turning off the television or putting down your cell phone, whatever the distraction is, it is a good idea to ditch it so you can provide your full attention to your child
If there are distractions in the room in which you are trying to have this conversation, it is less likely that you will be able to provide an active response.
Active listening is a conversational technique. When parents are active listners they provide empathy and understanding to the conversation being presented to them. Being able to respond with a solution or a little bit of advice is how you can be an active listener.
When your children are having a conversation with you, it is important to let them speak with interruption. Sometimes that means getting rid of distractions, but it also means letting them finish their thought before chiming in with your thoughts.
It can be difficult to refrain from speaking when your child presents you with information that you may believe has a simple solution for, but create a positive space and let your kiddo finish their thought.
Interrupting children can make it seem like you are starting to nag them. Nagging is one of those things that really puts up conversation barriers that will later be pretty difficult to breakthrough.
The best thing you can do let your child speak and when they are finished speaking, speak your two cents.
One word of advice when giving your two cents: try not to go on and on and on about the same thing. Your children WILL tune you out and the whole conversation that they just started to share with you can end in disappointment. Keep your responses short and sweet.
Use Encouraging Words
Children of all ages need to be encouraged. They need to discover their own solutions to problems so they can find their path through life on their own. Remind them that they are blooming into their best selves with some encouraging words of wisdom.
Be careful to use encouraging words and avoiding words of praise. Praise is not always a bad thing, but some words of praise can cause more harm than good.
When using encouraging words to have conversations with our children, be sure to be honest and focus on effort instead of ability. Be very specific and avoid the need to compare your child, goodness knows they have enough comparison at school.
Word of encouragement you can use:
- Thank you for your kindness
- Your thoughtfulness is one of your greatest strengths
- You just showed what it means to be a critical thinker
- I appreciate what a good listener you are
- You showed a lot of strength handling this challenge
- Your optimism is contagious!
- None of us is perfect; learning integrity takes practice.
- You achieved your goal with a lot of hard work.
- Your imagination is awesome!
Keeping an open line of communication should be one of the most important things on the parenthood list. If only parenting came with a manual, I am positive that this would be number 1 – aside from keeping them alive and fed of course.
Remember to respond and not react when hearing news from your child and allow room for them to speak to you without distraction and interruption.
Allow room for encouragement within your conversation so that your child can improve their own belief in themselves, and you will have an amazing relationship with an open line of conversation so you can be sure to build strong relationships as time goes on.