Creative Child

How to Raise Kids Who Can Talk to You about Anything

by Rebecca Eanes

We all hope for the kind of relationship with our children where they feel they can talk to us about anything. We hope they’ll run to us with their hopes, fears, problems, and dreams. However, getting them to open up isn’t always easy. Here are 7 powerful ways to ensure the communication lines will stay open.

 

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  1. Listen to the chatter of your toddler or preschooler. Why? You’re making deposits and building rapport. Kids will only talk to you if they feel like you’ll listen, especially when they get older. Focused attention, eye contact, and thoughtful responses now mean a child who feels she can open up to you later. 
  1. Engage in side-by-side conversations. Often we want to sit our kids down face-to-face and have a deep, meaningful conversation, but many children are more likely to open up when you’re either busy doing something together, such as playing ball or watching a show, or if you’re not making direct eye contact, such as when you are in a car. Sometimes a face-to-face chat is great, but other times it can cause a child to clam up, especially if the tone or body language is off. If you want your child to communicate more, create opportunities for conversation while you are side by side and engaged in something.

 

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  1. Hold your tongue – at first. Parents can be quick to dish out advice or even criticism, but be careful with your words. If children feel that you’re going to be judgmental, they may look for a peer to confide in instead. Of course, children need our guidance even when they aren’t asking for it and don’t want it, but it’s best to be a great listener first. You’ll be able to feel if your child is currently open to hearing your hard-earned wisdom or if they may need a little time. When you do give advice, try not to lecture. Keep it short, and end with showing faith in your child to do what’s right.
  1. Make your relationship number one. A strong parent-child relationship is the single most important predictor of good communication. Spend time connecting with your child each day. Play, cuddle, listen, read, dance, and just enjoy one another. I think we can sometimes take our role so seriously as the “behavior patrol” that we forget to enjoy our kids, and that comes at a great cost to our relationship. A good relationship is also what allows our wisdom to reach a child’s heart. If your child isn’t feeling connected and accepted, your lessons won’t stick.
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