Encouraging your Child to Talk to You

If you want to have the kind of relationship with your child where they feel able to talk to you about whatever they want, then you aren?t alone. Many parents want the kind of openness that they had or wanted to have with their own parents. Trying to strike the balance between parent and friend is hard. On one hand, you want your children to know that they can tell you anything, on the other hand, you also have to be a parent, and this means discipline. Treading that fine line is one of the trickiest aspects of being a great parent.

Be Open and Available

Set aside time when your child can talk to you. This might be at mealtimes, or during a hobby you share. If you are too busy to spend quality time with them, your child won?t feel able to open up about things. Bonding with your child by spending time together will naturally lead to them disclosing what’s on their mind.

Don?t Judge

Show your child that you aren?t going to judge them, however they feel and whatever they have done. There is a difference between being judgemental and being fair when disciplining your child. Whatever they do, always judge the behaviour or the action rather than the child. So instead of ?you are naughty for doing that?, try, ?that was a naughty thing to do?. So you are condemning the action, not the child. This will make them feel like they can open up and tell you if they, or someone else, have done something they feel to be wrong.

Share Your Experiences

Nothing will make your child less likely to share things with you of they feel that you are perfect and won?t understand if they have sad thoughts, confusion, have done something they are unhappy about or are worried about someone else. So show them, in a controlled way, that you aren?t perfect. For example, if your child is worried about an argument with a friend, tell them about a time when you had problems with a friend, and explain how you both compromised to fix it. Offer to help by having the friend round so they can play together and make friends again. Your child will see that you have been through the same problems, and they will be much more likely to trust your advice and feel able to talk things through in future.

Use Books

If you suspect something is bothering your child, share a book that deals with a similar issue. This can be the perfect opportunity to raise the issue without your child feeling like they are under the spotlight. Combine the story with disclosures of your own, ?Aw, the boy is really angry. I get angry when people are rude, what makes you feel angry??, or ?Why do you think the little girl is so happy? Why is she sad? Why is she excited?? and so on. Your child may open up using the book as a starting point to exploring their feelings.