10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Talk to You By Mark Brandenburg
Parents can often be frustrated by their kids' unwillingness to share their
lives with them. Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, there will be times
when it's difficult to "break through" and find out what's really going on.
Here are ten ideas on how to create opportunities for your kids to open up and
share their lives with you.
1. Don't try so hard to get them to talk.
The harder you try to get them to talk, the more they'll resist you. When you
relax the pressure a bit, they'll sense it and be more ready to talk to you.
2. Slow down your own life and be available.
Kids have a keen sense of how busy you are. If you're providing enough down time
for you and your kids, they'll be more likely to feel comfortable talking to
3. Engage in a physical activity that they enjoy.
Shooting baskets, playing soccer, or a game of catch may have your child
chattering away. Moving the body can serve to move the mouth as well!
4. Be as non-judgmental as possible.
If your kids feel they won't be judged when they talk to you they'll have no
reason to hold back. Have a sense of curiosity and wonder about what they're
saying, and limit the lectures about what's right or wrong.
5. Use open-ended questions.
Questions that begin with "why" tend to create defensiveness, and yes or no
questions won't get you much of a response. Learn to use questions that will
stimulate conversation. "What did you notice about that picture?" works better
than, "Did you like that picture?"
6. Use the car as a place for conversation.
You've got them and they can't get out! Don't allow video games or other toys to
interfere with your opportunity to talk with them.
7. Reflect back what you hear from them.
It's still the best way for your kids to feel heard and the best way to
encourage them to expand on the subject.
8. Talk to them while they're coloring, painting, or drawing.
Using these activities to allow your kids to express themselves can have them
expressing themselves to you as well. And joining in on the activity yourself
can produce an even greater sense of connection and sharing.
9. Provide opportunities for fun and excitement.
Whatever the activity, when your kids are doing something they love to do
they'll want to share it with you. Provide these for your kids and listen to
them talk about it afterward!
10. Be a friend as well as a parent.
While you must be a parent first, being a friend to your kids will help them to
want to share with you. Don't overdo the strict parental stuff.
About the author: Author Mark Brandenburg, MA, CPCC, is a certified
personal and business coach, husband, and the father of two children. He is a
coach to men who want to have more effective, loving relationships with their
family. He conducts classes for fathers as well as providing individual
coaching. Mark has a Masters degree in counseling psychology and is a former
world-ranked tennis professional. For a twenty-minute complimentary session,
e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.