Conversations are key to checking in on your children and their emotional wellbeing. A child who feels a connection to their parents is more likely to feel happy. By engaging your child and talking about the little things in life, they are a lot more likely to open up about the bigger things. We often hear from parents after asking their child questions only to receive monosyllabic answers. “My kids don’t tell me anything.” The concern is if your child can’t or won’t tell you about their day, how can you be sure they’ll talk to you about their feelings.
The solution is simple. Conversations make connections. You can also use conversations to help address key issues they might have such as a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence. By making the time to sit with your child and asking them really open-ended questions, it might surprise you what they say:
Conversation starters for self-confidence include:
Is being scared a good thing or a bad thing?
What is the best compliment you’ve ever had?
What are you most proud of yourself for?
Conversation starters for self-esteem include:
What makes someone clever?
What is your favourite subject at school?
Do you think you need other people to tell you your good at something to feel good about yourself?
There are no right or wrong answers, these are just conversation starters which will give you the chance to talk and reassure. Helping children to identify their strengths and talk about their fears, whilst reinforcing their self-belief is always a positive step.
The benefits of encouraging your kids to talk are far-reaching. Through improved conversations, they can be building skills such as:
It sounds straightforward, but if you don’t know where to start here are just three simple steps to follow:
Set time to talk. A teacher once said to me, there’s no such thing as not having time, you can always make time. I soon realised he was right and it’s stood me in a good sense ever since. Carving out time at key moments rather than trying to create extra time is a pragmatic approach for the time poor. These occasions could include:
Long car rides/trips
At the dinner table
On the school run
2. Listen. Kids will register your body language and involvement. They won’t miss a thing being especially quick to disengage if they think you’re not paying attention. So listen. Actively. Ask questions and extend their stream of thought. Try not to correct them, whatever you’re talking about, whatever they say, if their train of thought is provocative help steer them in the right direction.
3. Be prepared. Think about what you want to talk about. If it helps, use a game or prompts such as our Conversation Cards for kids. These can give you a fun, engaging way that enables your child to own the conversation in a structured way.
We’ll finish with two words: