Parenting is hard work, especially when your kids aren’t talking to you! There is so much you think you should be doing, saying, teaching and paying attention to. One of the hardest skills to master as a parent is communication with your child. Whether your child is three or thirteen it is always necessary to say the right thing. As parents we always wish our children will ‘talk’ to us when they need someone to talk to. As parents we don’t always indicate that we have time to spare. Sometimes we don’t even acknowledge our child!
Make sure that you are available for your children, whenever they need to talk. They are most likely to open up at bed-time, mealtimes – especially dinner, and during car trips to and from school.
Start the conversation – instead of asking questions almost incessantly or probing them about their day, talk about what you’ve been doing or thinking about. Also, topics that interest your child will almost certainly get them talking.
Try to find a bit of time each week for your child. It may seem difficult, but it’s an important part of their week, as well as yours. Just an hour is all you need.
When your child comes to talk to you, stop what you are doing – your child is your priority. Put down the phone, or the newspaper. Pay attention – look them in the eye and actively listen to what they are saying. Comment when you think it is appropriate and ask them how they are feeling. Try not to tell them what to do.
Children always tell you the end part of what has happened. Resist the temptation to ask lots of questions and rush them, be patient and just reflect on your childs feelings. This is reflective listening – so try and work out what your child is feeling and simply state that eg. . “you sound angry with your sister” They will tell you the next part, and the next. Before long you will have the complete story from start to finish. They will tell you if you are willing to spend the time to listen.
Reflecting with your child about life problems is important for creating family bonds. Resist asking too many questions and rushing them. They will tell you only if you are patient and willing to spend the time to listen.