Learning how to communicate with your children is tough. Have you ever felt like getting your kids to open up and talk to you is like trying to open up Fort Knox? Dads, it time to listen up. Don’t Be a Jack and let those moments slip by. It’s time to engage your Uncommen skills and open up the lines of communication with your kids.
How do you get your kids to open up and talk to you? If you are the parents of young children under five years old, you are probably wondering the opposite (when they will ever stop talking.) But kids tend to clam up a bit more once they hit later in elementary school and begin to find their own identity apart from their parents. Having open communication with your kids is essential especially as they start to experience challenges in school and the negative aspects of peer pressure.
The most significant determinant that is keeping your kids from being engaged in open communication is YOU. Here are a few ideas to get those conversations off the ground to better understand and connect with your child.
1. Be available – Kids want to talk when something is going on for them. Never waste a car ride or even doing chores together.
2. Look for openings – a lot of times, as busy parents, we are too focused on what we are doing to notice the opportunities our kids give us. It can be tough to pull ourselves away from our current tasks to pay attention. But kids see this. So, find ways to open up conversations with simple open-ended questions.
3. Connect Every Single day – Find a short time every day that you can connect with your kids. It could be on a car ride, or getting ready before bedtime to hear the highlights of the day.
4. Listen Don’t Interrogate – If you find your child saying “I don’t know” to you often, it might be they feel like they are being interrogated. A lot of times as parents, we inadvertently shut down the conversation without realizing it. Pushing out unsolicited advice, or lecturing them is a sure fire way to put a damper on the discussion.
5. The wording is key – How you say something and what you say are so important to your kids. When they come home upset about a challenge with a friendship at school, instead of saying “Wow you seem angry.” try saying “What do you think happened? Do you feel like talking about it?” While it’s a small change, the first sentence sounds accusatory. The second one shows a bit more empathy and offers them the chance to share what’s going.
Getting your kids to open up sure isn’t easy. Hopefully, with a few of these tips, it will make the conversation go over a bit better. Every conversation is different. Every kid is different. But the important thing is that you are making a UNCOMMEN effort to understand what is going on in their lives.
Be reminded and encouraged in Psalm 127: 3-5 “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”
About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative.