You are not alone if you are a parent looking for some help when it comes to talking to your kids. As they get older, kids start to live in a different world and it becomes increasingly difficult to talk to them. Sometimes it might feel like you are not even speaking the same language. If you need some help, consider the following five strategies.
1) Set the scene: One problem parents face when trying to talk to their kids is that they do it the wrong way or choose the wrong time. If your child is running out the door to school or has friends over, for example, they are less likely to engage in a deep conversation with you. A few grunts and nods is all you will get. If you want a real conversation, get rid of distractions. This means turning off the television, putting away the cell phone, making sure homework is done and ensuring that there are no other people around. You can also talk over the dinner table, as your child will not be trying to escape. Another suggestion might be to have a discussion at the kitchen counter over an after school snack. Another option would be to set an appointment with your kid to talk. Set the scene, make it easier to talk.
2) Ask more than “yes and no” questions: Talking with parents is something some kids resist, and it is easy to get away with never having a real conversation because they can nod, grunt and say “yes” or “no”. To engage your child is a real conversation, ask open ended questions that require more than a shrug, a yes or a no. Ask questions about their feelings, opinions and views on various topics. You might want to start with something simple, such as, “Why do you think so many people like pizza?” Do not let them say, “I do not know.” Ask them why they do. Then get into a philosophical discussion on the merits of melted cheese. Start with something that is not intimidating to get them talking, then you can move on to more important topics.
Parents talking to kids.
3) Reduce and simplify: When you talk to your kids, do not beat around the bush, or give unnecessary details; instead, simplify. Your child will likely follow your lead and do the same. This will greatly improve your ability to get your message across. You would not give tons of detail about what “rape” is if your child asked, you would give them the simplified and brief version. Do the same about other things, and soon you and your child will be on the same page enough to expand. For example, when they violate curfew and you could not get in touch with them, instead of making a big fuss and telling them everything you did and thought, simply say, “It scares me when you do not come home on time and I can’t get in touch with you. You are grounded until you can show me you are more responsible.”
4) Share feelings: Kids are simply not as logical as adults, they are far more emotional. Their reactions and actions are often a result of their feelings. So, share your feelings with them to help them understand better where you are coming from. This strategy works. If you tell your child that when they hit you feel disappointed and sad, they will be far less likely to hit than if you just tell them to stop.
5) Encourage your child to talk about anything: Sometimes meaningful conversations are difficult for you and your child. So, to make talking about things that matter easier, talk about things that don’t. The more practice you have at talking, the better you both will be at it and the sooner you can start discussing issues that matter.