“What did you do at school today?”
Sound familiar? We hear from a lot of our friends that this is what their children tell them every day. We are lucky (or not, depending on your point of view). Our kids won’t stop talking most evenings! Here are some of the things that have worked for us to get our kids to open up and start talking!
- Eat dinner together whenever possible. No distractions.
- At the table, each kid has a turn talking about their day. We have done this since the kids were little toddlers. It is a routine now, so they are used to talking about their day. Sometimes they need time limits because we don’t need to know about every. single. detail.
- If they aren’t chatty, ask stupid questions. (Did anyone get suspended today? sent to the office? become girlfriend/boyfriend? pass gas?)
- We adults talk about our day, too. We try to make it sound exciting. Sometimes we talk for a long time and don’t let the kids get a word in. This makes them very anxious to take their turn.
- Read those newsletters the teachers send home and ask about the material in them.
Now that we have a 12-year old, the dinner conversations are still going alright, but there are times when I think she needs to talk a bit more and she just won’t. You know, she’s all hormonal and cranky and basically won’t say much at all but I just KNOW she would be so much better if she would just let it out! Of course I must be right. So this is what I have tried that has shown some success:
- Hook her up with one of her aunts. She likes them more than me. She’ll talk to them.
- Put her in touch with one of her grandmas.
- I just start guessing about how her day went. “You had to run too much in PE and hated it. Your partner in math class wasn’t who you wanted it to be and you hated it. You couldn’t find ANY friends to eat with at lunch. You tripped and fell in the hallway and EVERYONE laughed…” By the time she finishes correcting all of my errors (and being amazed at the one thing I got right), she’s telling me about her actual day and is much less cranky.
- Get her alone – the best for us is taking a walk one-on-one. When we are walking, she doesn’t stop talking.
The key for us has always been making time for the kids to talk and ensuring that what they have to say is important to us
even if we could care less about hearing that they walked into class and hung their backpack up and then sat on the carpet. Giving the kids individual time with us also makes them want to talk even more. I hope that this will give us a strong foundation of communication that carries us through those turbulent teen years – only time will tell!