Do you know how to talk to children? Really!! Do you TALK to your child or is it just a series of one-sided dialogues with you giving instructions/directions and the child is either responding to your directions and giving cursory replies. Toddlers or preschoolers talk freely but as they grow up children tend to clam up more and more. If you create a communicative environment at your home where you are constantly talking to your child, they will get used to it and talking will come naturally to them.
Here are five ways you can actually talk to your children and
improve your communication with them.
Playback the day
It is one of the best conversation starters ever, ask them what happened during the school or at playground. If the kids don’t open up then take the lead and talk about your day. Tell them about what you did at home or at work and then slowly ask them about their day. If they don’t or can’t explain the details about their day, don’t despair they will surely do so soon. If you have toddlers or young children who are still developing their language skills then it will help to ask specific questions like which toy did they play with at school? Or who is their favorite friend?
Have some special time
Make sure that you block some time which is devoted to talking as a family and one to one conversation. This could be any time like while you are putting your little one to sleep or like us while walking the dog (me and daughter walk our dog and I try to talk only about her). All that matters is that you keep the focus on interaction and communication rather than giving instructions or criticizing the child. This time should be considered sacred and should be non-negotiable.
There are a lot of times when our kids are trying to talk to us and we are busy or our mind is somewhere else, we only hear what they are saying but don’t really listen. Kids are extremely sensitive and will see through any pretenses. Reflect on what they are saying so that they know that you are really interested and understand their words. Make genuine effort to not interrupt them or even correct them but just be a sounding board at this time. Listening thoughtfully shows respect for your children and builds stronger relationships.
I know how sometimes a meeting is just too important or housework is just piling on but it is also important to be able to be there for your children even if you have to make some adjustments. So the next time you feel your child wants to talk then put away that laundry for a while and talk to him/her. It is also important to reiterate your availability to your children. For example, telling them that they can call you at work if they feel like talking or if you are doing housework asking them to join you shows that you are emotionally available to them even if you are busy.
Encourage indirect conversation
Sometimes kids talk the most when you are not really conversing with them. For example when you are in a car or may be when they are with their friends. When eye contact is limited then conversation flows freely and so you should look for opportunities where you can talk to your kids and learn more about them. You can create opportunities like cooking with each other, buying groceries or doing craft, these are all great times to start a conversation and know something interesting about your kids.
Make them a part of discussions
Unless a matter is absolutely inappropriate for them, it is advisable to keep kids included in all discussions. Whether you are talking about money, health or life in general let kids also participate in the discussion. Don’t brush away their suggestions or comments. You must realise that each such discussion is not only connecting you to your child on a deeper level but also strengthening their life skills. Whether it is death in the family or an impending move, never think that a child is too young or immature to understand the meaning of these changes. It is extremely important to talk them about these issues and keep the communication lines open.
I hope these tips are helpful in bringing your kids closer to you and you are able to connect to them on a deeper emotional level. As always I treasure your comments and I will leave you with this beautiful quote which inspired me to write this post.
Listen earnestly to anything to your children want to tell you no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big
because to them all of it has always been big stuff
Catherine M. Wallace