Have you experienced this? You sit across the dinner table, on the couch or in the car trying to start a conversation with your child about what they learned at school or church today, and you get the ever dreaded “nothing really”, “not much” or “I don’t know”. My father’s response to me was always “So you just sat and stared at the ceiling all day?” As much as it made me laugh it still did not make me talk.
Having a conversation or communicating with your child requires you to go on a journey with them. If I sat across the table from you and asked how your day at work was, how your marriage is, or what you learned at church today, you would have answers about a sentence long. The mood would be awkward and our conversation would be over. For this reason, when you start talking to your child, it is important to start the right way.
Start young – Although it can seem like a conversation with your 2 or 3 year old is going nowhere, it is laying groundwork for future conversations. The conversations will become more meaningful, and having conversations with your child will be a natural part of your families’ rhythm. Often we find ourselves wishing we could do things over, but we do not always get a chance. If you are a parent of a teenager you may be saying ‘what about me?’ It is never too late to start a conversation. Here are some suggestions how.
- If you could try anything new and knew that you wouldn’t fail, what would you try?
- If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
- What is your idea of an ideal day? (The answer could be another chance to connect.)
- What is your favorite trait in your best friend?
Start Light – Begin by talking about something small and of great interest to your child. Whether it is their favorite toy, sport, hobby or a question asking them which Disney princess they would rather be, this can help get the conversation moving. This way you can steer it in the direction that you want it to go. *Quick Tip: Avoid questions with yes or no answers.*
Stay informed – It is important to stay informed and up to date on what is going on in your child’s life. What are they involved in currently, who are they hanging out with, what are they reading, what are they watching and what are they listening to? Knowing what is going on gives you something to talk about, and engage them in meaningful conversation.
Do it often – Often for something to become natural in our lives, some element of repetition is required. Communicating with your kids is no different. You have to consistently invest the time in communicating with your child about the little things, so that when the time comes to talk about the big things you have created a clear and comfortable pattern of communication
All of these tips are to help you connect with your child; however, they are not a foolproof plan to get them to talk every time. The important thing to remember is to never give up, never stop communicating. Parenting is a journey and your kids will go through seasons, some more talkative then others. Every time you stop what you are doing to communicate with your child, it shows your child how much you value a relationship with them.
Do you have anything else that has worked for you?