Listen to your child and learn to understand him
Stop what you are doing and take a few minutes to ask your children about their day. Listen with interest. Do this every day.
When they approach you to tell you something either stop what you are doing or let them know that you will be with them in a few minutes. Listen to what they have to say even if it seems unimportant to you. This will signal that you are available for them and always ready to listen to what they have to say. When they face an important decision they will feel comfortable discussing it with you.
Express interest and involve yourself in your child’s life without smothering them of course. When she has a problem she’ll know that she can come to you. If communication is good enough you might even be able to solve issues before they become problems. Even if you don’t, your child will know that she can talk to you about anything.
A good way to get your kids to talk is to play a game at dinner each day. Each family member tells the rest of the family what the best and worst part of the day was. This forces children to talk about things that they are happy about and things that disturb them. If you want your children to open up to you then you should open up to them too. Tell them about things that bother you and things that made you happy. Set an example and talk about your life too. Some children are more open than others and if your children are not used to talking to you then it might take a while until they open up. Keep trying. You will learn more and more about your children by doing this. Once you know what bothers them, what upsets them and what makes them happy it will be much easier to understand them and their behavior.
I personally prefer to do this every day on the way home from school or as soon as we get home. That way, if something is bothering one of my kids it always comes out when they start talking about the worst part of their day.
Think before you react to something your child tells you. If you just yell each time your child admits to doing something wrong then in time he will just stop telling you.
Some kids are more open than others. For some, you can ask them the highlight of their day and they will go into details telling you every thing anyone said to them or did. Other’s are perfect candidates for the secret service. You can’t get anything out of them. If you ask what the best part of the day was you will be lucky to hear “recess”. You are not going to get any more detail than that. Gently ask for more details. You child might actually start opening up and elaborating. Don’t turn it into an interrogation but you can ask questions like “which part?”, “who did you play with?”, “what did you do?”.
With older kids it helps to spend time with them in situations where they feel comfortable talking. For example, if you prepare dinner together you can start chatting and eventually your child might open up and discuss bigger issues. It might not happen the first time you do it but you need to be there for your child to talk to you. You might not always have enough free time to spend with your kids so preparing meals together is a great opportunity to spend time together chatting as you prepare the food. It is something that you need to do anyway so why not utilize the time to get some quality time with your kids. If you have more than one child then try to have only one child help you at a time to ensure that it is quality time with that child and increase the likelihood of him opening up.
If you answer all of your child’s questions openly and honestly – even those that make you feel uncomfortable – you will develop a good trusting relationship with your child. Your child will come to you with her concerns because she knows that you she can talk to you about anything.
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