One of my favorite parts of working with and caring for other people’s children is in the honesty of my conversations with the kids. I have written about the importance of talking to and listening to your children before. In fact, my post “Listen to Your Child, You May Be Amazed,” remains one of my most read over time. It is not my best post and really is just a lead-in to a post I wrote for another site, yet more people find that post and my blog through some variation on the search term “talking to your children,” than anything else.
My question is why? Are people fascinated by what children have to say? Or are people really at a loss as to how to talk to children?
I find that children even as young as two have meaningful ideas, thoughts and contributions to discussions. Almost everyday I have the children in my daycare sit in a circle to simply discuss a topic or just catch-up on what is happening at home. There are times I get blank stares, but usually these children want to relate and contribute to the discussions Even the quiet observers who would never raise their hands or shout out, have really cute and sometimes profound things to say if given the opportunity.
So, how do I get them talking? By actually talking to them first. Yes, this is the secret. If you want your children to talk to you, you have to talk to them everyday. And not just to tell them to put on their shoes or clean-up their toys. I know that when you are busy parenting this is really hard to remember.
But, if you start talking WITH your children and NOT AT your children from a young age, you will get more out of them when they get older. Just keep these tips in mind:
- Do not bombard your children with questions the moment they get home from school or daycare. Allow them to transition. Just like adults, they need to decompress (or tantrum it out a bit) first.
- Ask specific open-ended questions that go beyond , “How was your day?”
- Start conversations by sharing about you and your day. Focus on something small and make it engaging. Then ask related questions. Here is an example: Parent – “Today, I had the best lunch. I ate a turkey sandwich and an apple that was so juicy. What was your favorite part of your lunch?”
- Don’t push or get frustrated if your children don’t feel like talking. They will when they are ready.
- If your child starts a conversation with you, then stop what you are doing and look him or her in the eye. Ask follow-up questions and seem interested. Even if it is about the same crazy non-nonsensical dream you have heard about three days in a row.
Do you have trouble talking with your child? What is the cutest thing your child has ever said to you? Please leave a comment, sign-up to receive my blog posts via e-mail, or join the discussion on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page.