Like a fog that rolls into the home and turns a once talkative child into a temperamental monk working to maintain a vow of silence, virtually all children come to an age where they shut down and become difficult to communicate with.
Use the following tips to get the child you love to pen up and start talking to you.
When you pay attention to your child’s activities, he/she feels validated and cared for. If you can let your child teach you about his interests (such as video games, art, musical tastes, friends, and more), he/she will have greater trust in you. In turn, he/she will be more likely to share their feelings, thoughts, feats, successes, and challenges with you.
Make eye contact.
In the same way that you’d look at your boss to show that you’re paying attention, you show a child you care by looking them in the eye during a conversation.
Ask open ended questions instead of closed questions.
Open ended questions give room for thoughtful answers which fill in conversational space. Closed questions limit opportunity for answers with depth.
Open Ended Questions:
• “What are you up to this weekend?”
• “What’s going on at school these days?”
• “Did you have a good weekend?”
• “Did you like school today?”
Use reliable tone of voice.
When communicating with a child, it’s important to use a calm tone of voice, even under tense moments. This helps keep him from escalating into a high emotional state. Remember, children mirror what their parents model.
Turn technology off when talking.
In our modern society, there are various devices pulling out attention away from the family. If you take time to turn off your devices when you talk with your children, it will demonstrate that you care about them and prioritize them.
Check in with your child every day, a few times a day. If you keep in touch with your child, they’ll know you are interested in how he’s doing. If you only rarely check in, your child will feel you’re simply interested due to parental obligation.
Be aware of timing.
It’s likely there are days when you come home from work and need to decompress before you socialize with others. After a hard day at school, your child needs time to decompress as well. If your child has just returned home from school, don’t approach them immediately and start talking.
This can be anything from family dinner night to walking the dog with your child at a specific time. Well-planned rituals provide a framework where you can speak to your child without it feeling forced.
Originally from PRO Pulse November-December 2014
By Sean Trudeau