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    10 Ways To Make Your Children Always Open Up To You

    We all want to be close to our children, but it is not always easy to find out what is going on in their heads and hearts. While some children are chatterboxes, eager to regale us with every detail of their life, others are quiet and reserved. They keep their thoughts and feelings private and you are wondering what is really going on inside.

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    Here are 10 simple practices that help children to open up:

    1. Pay Attention to Your Child’s Mood

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    When they are in a chatty frame of mind, make a point to listen and engage. If you’ve got a child who doesn’t usually talk and they pick a strange time to confide in you, putting them off may mean that you miss the opening.

    NOTE: Please, don’t shun your child in any way, and don’t cut them short while they are talking.

    2. Be a Sympathetic Listener

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    Children (like adults) need to have their feelings validated. When a child admits to feeling insecure, worried, or angry, acknowledge their emotions. Try saying some things like, “Oh, I can understand why that made you feel that way”.

    3. Listen More and Talk Less

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    If children feel like you are always going to launch into advice mode every time they start talking, they may shut down. (This is especially true as they enter their preteen years). Just like grown-ups, sometimes, children don’t want to be fixed, and they don’t want a solution, they just want to be heard. If a child confides a worry or problem to you, just listen and listen thoroughly. Ask questions like, “How did that make you feel? Did it make you feel anything else? What do you plan to do about it?” The more you dig, the better you will get to know your child. Once you’ve heard the whole story and allowed them to air their feelings, you may find an opening for giving advice and helping them find a solution.

    Read also: 10 Fantastic Ways To Have Fun At Family Reunion

    4. Ask Questions That Draw Out Conversation

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    Try to avoid yes and no questions, like “Did you have a good day?” Or “Did you have fun with your friends?” Instead, try asking more specific and open-ended questions that will draw out a more detailed answer. Questions like “what happened at recess today?” Or “what did everybody talk about at lunch today?” If you know something has been bothering your child, try to follow up with specific questions about the situation.

    5. Get Active

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    Some children feel uncomfortable just sitting down and having a talk, they get tongue-tied because they feel put on the spot. They open up better when you are doing something active, like throwing a ball in the yard, colouring side by side at the table, even washing dishes together.

    6. Use Car Rides For Conversation

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    It is tempting to plug in to music and phone calls in the car, especially when you spend half of your life chauffeuring your children from one activity to the next, but those in-between times can be a great time to connect.

    7. Avoid Sarcasm

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    If you engage in too much teasing or sarcasm, a sensitive child may withdraw from you because they don’t feel that you are a safe place for them.

    Read also: 10 Tips To Protect Your Children On The Internet

    8. Show Your Children That You Care About What They Care About

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    If they are into a book, ask about their favourite parts (consider reading the book yourself, to share the experience). If they like a sport, let them explain all the rules and demonstrate what skill they are working on.

    9. Unplug

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    If the phone rings or the computer dings while you are talking to your child, ignore the ding (most especially when you have a serious discussion with them). This simple discipline shows your children that they are important to you, worthy of your full, uninterrupted attention. It also provides an example of setting appropriate boundaries for technology.

    10. Tell Stories From Your Own Childhood

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    Please, always tell true stories to your children. Don’t ‘paint’ yourself to be a perfect human being to them. Children love stories that make them laugh, or that reveal your own weaknesses, mistakes and embarrassing moments. Children feel safer confiding with you when they know that you are like them, and that you have made mistakes too.

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    Photo credit: Getty

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