From toddler to teen, there are always going to be times when it is difficult to talk to your children. The following are five strategies for talking to your kids:
1. Ask open ended questions: If your child is being resistant to conversation, don’t ask them questions that require monosyllabic answers. Ask them open ended questions that require longer answers as these are the types of questions spark longer, more frequent and better conversations between you and your child.
2. Make the situation comfortable: One strategy for talking to your kids is the cookies and milk strategy. When they get home from school have milk and cookies available for them. Let them know they need to sit at the counter to enjoy them and may not take the snack to their rooms, then use this time, when they are not distracted with other things, to get a conversation going. Ask them about their day and how they feel, for starters. This will allow them to warm up to the idea of talking with you and will provide you with a time and place to get the conversation started.
3. Make it simple: When talking to your kids, keep things as simple as possible. Would you explain the details of sex to your five year old? No. Keep topics simple and age-appropriate. Start with the basics and only expand the conversation when your child engages in it. If you get too complicated, or make things difficult, then talking becomes a strenuous, rather than enjoyable experience.
4. Use your hands, props, etc.: When you first teach your children to speak, you use hand signals and gestures to increase understanding. This is done naturally because it increases understanding and helps them communicate better with you. When it works so well with infants, why abandon this tactic when your children get older? You shouldn’t. If you want to increase your ability to communicate with them, use hand gestures, props and signals. If you want them to get excited about summer camp, for example, don’t just tell them that you signed them up, show them the brochure, write it on the calendar and start a packing list. When you teach them about reproduction, show them science book pictures of the ovaries and the penis, explaining it with pictures and words. Whenever a prop, photo or hand gesture can enhance your message, use it!
5. Keep your child updated: If you want your child to talk to you, talk to them. keep your child updated on what is going on in your life and expect them to do the same with you. Each morning go over the details of the upcoming day. Let them know where you stand on issues and ask for their opinion about where they stand. By keeping them in the loop, they will often return the favor, which will get communication going.