How to improve communication with your child

As children get older, maintaining communication with them can get harder. Their emotions are running wild, and it can leave the family dynamic at a loose end. But there’s hope – it’s normal for your child to be emotional and with a bit of effort in the communication department, you can maintain a healthy relationship with your kid. Here are some ways you can improve communication with your child. 

Avoid questions that go nowhere

When you’re engaging in a conversation with your child, avoid questions that lead to a dead-end or a one-word answer, as this simply cuts the interaction off before it’s even begun. Questions that engage them and require them to describe events or share ideas are a better option, as they get the conversation going and that can lead to other topics of discussion that may be more meaningful. 

Speak their language

Finding ways to talk to your child in a way that resonates with them can help with communication. From using words that they’ve used in the past to understanding what emojis mean when they’re messaging you, it can help to reassure your child that their ideas are valued and that they’re being listened to. It also puts you both on the same level which can be incredibly helpful when you’re conversing with one another. 

Make a habit of conversation

Kids can have hard-wired styles when it comes to how they converse, such as being chattier in the morning or over dinner, or preferring back and forth style banter over a slower paced discussion. If you can observe these styles and pay attention to how your child prefers to communicate, you can create a ritual out of talking to them at these periods when they’re more likely to engage with you. Maybe reserve the drive home from school to talk about your days, or make a habit of talking over breakfast in the morning. 

Pay attention to the details

The superficial details are anything but. In fact, these details are often the route to the real focus of the conversation. Kids can get scared off when we delve into deep topics too fast, but by digging into the seemingly surface-level details of a conversation, you can often guide it to the root of the problem. It also shows your kids that you’re paying attention and value what they’re talking about. Commit to the superficial details of the conversation and, more often than not, the deeper topics will arise naturally

Don’t be afraid to give advice

Kids of all ages need direction, and whether they’d like to admit it or not, they want advice to help them make decisions. When you’re talking to your child, discuss how they might have handled the situation in question differently and ask for their ideas, but also provide your own. It can be easy to slip into lecture mode when handing out advice, but can be off-putting for your kids to feel like they’re being told what to do. So, keep it short and sweet, and use your own experiences to guide your advice so that your kid can learn from your own life experiences and wisdom. 

Respond with real emotion

Parents looking to improve their communication with their kids need to be genuine with their responses. Naming feelings and nodding along is fine, but to get your kids to open up and talk to you more, you need to be a real person and respond in the way you would if you were talking to your partner or a friend. Genuine responses encourage others to want to share things with you, and your kids are no exception. 

Final thoughts

Communication is always difficult, but it can be particularly challenging when you’re trying to talk to your kids. As your children get older, they can become more closed off emotionally, and that can make getting them to open up and share how they’re feeling really tough. But there are ways to encourage them to talk to you, no matter what’s going on in their lives. From keeping your responses genuine and talking their language to giving valuable advice without lecturing them, with time your kids will realise that they can talk to you without feeling embarrassed or worried. 

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