As parents, we live for conversations with our kids. While communication with our children starts well before they’ve even mastered their first words, once they go verbal on us, the list of communicative opportunities with our little ones seems endless. Of course, we quickly realize that “seems endless” is the operative phrase in our dialoging experience with our kids. Yes, in theory, once our children have mastered language expression, it would seem natural for us to talk with them more. However, in practice, as most parental endeavors, we find ourselves completely at the mercy of our children’s whims; in short, if the kiddos don’t feel like talking, it just doesn’t happen.
Sound familiar? Rest assured, you’re certainly not alone. We’ve all had that moment with our children where, certain they’ve had a day full of excitement and adventure, we ask with giddy anticipation, “What did you do (learn, see, hear, etc.) today?” only to receive a gutturally muttered, “nothing” in response.
Different Communication Tactics To Help Kids Want To Share More Conversationally
Fortunately, we don’t have to simply navigate through the long stretches of awkward silences with our little ones. There are a wide range of effective approaches we, as parents, can incorporate into our dialogues with our kids to help them (and us!) brush up on our conversational prowess. Next time you hit an awkward lull try:
Getting specific: When talking with your kids, avoid yes/no questions whenever possible. Instead, ask specific, open-ending questions to help encourage your kids to give longer than one word responses. Instead of the token “How was school?” inquiry, drill a bit deeper with “What do you learn about in science class today?” Not only does it help them focus on a specific topic, it also helps them to remember particulars about their day rather than recollect the entire school day as a whole.
Modeling for them: It’s no secret that we live in a, ahem, “distracted” society. Being immersed in a technology-driven environment means that many of us spend our days having virtual conversation as opposed to actual conversations. The result? We may be modeling poor conversational behavior for our children. Unplugging and tuning into our family time to demonstrate some good communication approaches is a great way to instill those characteristics in the kiddos.
Setting aside time to talk: You’re a parent – busy is an understatement, right? That’s why it can be critical to actually designate family conversation times. Try setting aside time in the beginning of the day to discuss what everyone is looking forward to in the hours ahead. Or, allocate evening time to have everyone go through their day and talk about what they liked and was the toughest part about their day. It’s a great way to give everyone a chance to contribute as well as reinforce how to conversationally connect and engage.
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