Do you remember the days when your kids talked nonstop and asked you questions endlessly during their toddler-hood and you wished you could wear those earplugs and get a little peace of mind? And then, they enter elementary school and they begin to clam up with you. Or perhaps laying the base for themselves to become a full-fledged introvert. But As a parent, it is your responsibility to build a bridge between you and your child and get him to talk to you. If you are able to get your child to talk without too much of prodding, count on your blessings. But if you are struggling to get your child to open up, here are a few strategies which could be handy for you.
1. Your first-hand help – Looking out for conversation starter:
Your child will give you hints about conversation starters. All you need to do it, be quick to grasp it and start the conversation. Though in a busy life of yours, it might be difficult to tear yourself away from your work and concentrate on your child talks, this is crucial to let your child know you will always be there in time of need and they can count on you.
2. Be all ears:
Yes, silence is uncomfortable. The mistake most of the parents do is, give up the silence and jump in while their kid is talking. That is not what your child wants. Your child wants to be heard and understood. If you jump in with your own talks, your kids would shrink away and it would become more difficult to verbalize their feelings. So, bite your tongue and be all ears while your kid is talking.
3. Don’t give solutions or advice – unless wanted:
When your child is talking about something which has hurt him or which has made him angry, it is obvious that parents jump in with their words of wisdom. But what your child truly needs is a chance to vent. He is not expecting any solutions or advice from you. He needs a chance to find the solutions by himself. Finding answers and solutions by himself to his own problems makes him feel confident as well as competent. Even better is commiserate their situations, reflect their feelings and brainstorm the solutions.
4. Ask subjective questions:
Asking questions such as “How was your day?” would most probably get you the answer “Fine”, or “Good!” but instead try asking “What did you do today?”, “With whom did you play today?”, “What did teacher tell today?” This kind of questions would get you elaborate answers and kick-start your conversation with your child.
5. How you form sentences matter:
Changing how you frame the question for your child could make or break the conversation. This is a tried-and-true theory.
Do not ask the direct questions. Your child doesn’t like it. Instead, add something like “I wonder…” in front of the sentence and that would create wonders. For example: try changing the question “What did he do to you?” to “Wow you seem so upset. I wonder what he did to you?” Though both the sentences sound pretty much same, most of the children answer the second question if the question is followed by silence.
6. Ask non-judgmental questions that require real answers:
Questions which begin with “Why?” most probably make your kid defensive. “Why did you do that?” wouldn’t work on your child as effectively as “What do you think your friends would be doing in that situation?”