Effective Communication Tips to Get Your Child to Open Up
Your parent-and-child relationship is one of the most crucial relationships you’ll ever have in your life. Contrary to what most parents think, spending time with your child is not enough relationship-building to get you on the right track with them. What you actually need is the connection, one that you can only form through effective communication. More than just clearing off your schedule for the weekend, the real goal is to get into a meaningful conversation with your child.
It may sound easy, you may even think that it would just be simply “talking to my child”. But, talking alone is still not good enough. What you need is to spark a meaningful conversation, a “trigger” that will get them to talk to you. One effective parenting method that encourages natural communication is bedtime reading. Bedtime reading is such a special time for you and your little one. The small moments that you spend in bed every night give them the feeling of love and security.
As you get into the story with your child, you meet characters, situations, places, and events that you can talk about. This small pep talk during bedtime is actually the start of a special and lasting bond that you will have with your little one. It has been discovered that children’s learning during shared reading is based on the parent’s ability to “bridge the child’s world and the world of the books” (Bus, 2003). If you are struggling with a reluctant reader, it’s ideal that you let the child choose a book that they like, something that really gets their attention. A personalised book is a smart choice, it’s a custom-made storybook that features your child as the hero of the story. A recent study by the National Literacy Trust found that personalised books increase reading comprehension by 40% versus non-personalised books. No wonder many parents like the idea of having a personalised storybook for their little ones!
Effective Communication Tips to Get Your Child to Open Up: Ask the Right Questions
In most cases, the problem is not how you ask the question, but what question you ask your child. General questions such as “how’s your day” would most likely expect a generic response like “it was fine” or just “good”. Because the question is so open-ended, it is quite challenging to provide a comprehensive answer, especially when the kids are worn out from a long day. Moreover, a vague question would also suggest that the person asking it is merely being polite and has no actual interest in learning your response. So, if you want to improve the way you communicate with your child, begin by asking the right questions to them.
To encourage effective communication, when opening a conversation with your child through a question, make them more specific. Say your question in a way that you will get more than just an “okay” or “good” response. For example, instead of asking “how was school today”, tweak your question and make it more specific like “what did you do in your math class today?”. Making your question more specific encourages your child to think, and respond with more specific details. And when they reply, ask a follow-up question like “do you find geometry easy or quite challenging?”.
When you ask questions in small chunks and in detail, you will likely get a more specific answer rather than the typic generic “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, or “good”. Here are some tips on how to ask good questions to start a meaningful conversation with your child:
- Always ask about the positives – as much as possible try to avoid conversations that trigger fear, trauma, and negative feelings. Your children are already stressed enough in school
- Ask about recent challenges– Your child may have challenges and concerns in school and in life that you may not know about. It’s good to ask them once in a while, doing so gives them a safe space to open up to you about it
- Ask how they are feeling– Some children show fewer emotions than others, so it’s ideal that you ask your child once in a while how they feel
- Learn from your conversations – Conversing with your child should not only be one-way. Learn from them as much as they are learning from you. Learn their language so you know how to speak to them the next time around. When this becomes a habit, opening a conversation will feel more natural
- Ask about the “small stuff”– The small thing, little details actually matter. Try to pay more attention to the little details, or if you have poor memory, take note of it on your phone. Small details like their favourite menu in the cafeteria, their math teacher’s name, and their favourite barbershop are just as important as the big details.
Conversations connect people. However, in recent years, the generational gap has challenged the way parents and children communicate. Tight work schedules, full school load, and gadgets have only made it worse. But, you always have a choice. Don’t let time slip off your fingers, your kids will be big and grown before you know it. So, build a solid relationship with your child, the first step is to start communicating effectively!