It's common knowledge that kids can be strange beings that are quite hard to relate to. Just as widely known is the fact that you'll need to relate to your children on some level in order to build the trust that is the foundation for an open and loving relationship. When you have open communication with your kids they'll be much more prepared to open up about what is bothering them and receive your input regarding what they should do in difficult situations, a much better option than them going to a peer.
We've compiled a top list of our very best tips to help you relate to your children in addition to creating and maintaining open lines of communication with your little ones. Even if they aren't as tiny as they once were, communication becomes even more important as they grow into teenagers. If you can start early with these tips then you can ensure that your children will always be ready to open up and share their thoughts and fears with you. Create a bond that will stand the test of time. Are you ready?
This might seem like a strange tip, but kids are often scared off when asked about their deeper feelings. Asking about small details that seem insignificant can give the real story. If your child says that they were in the library and you ask what book they chose, they'll tell you about the book and perhaps continue into a diatribe about how they have to hide in the library because of a bully. If you outright ask why they'll feel interrogated, so let them open up on their own and keep conversation light.
Superficial doesn't mean inconsequential, feel free to tell them their feet stink. But keep the tone light. Take your pick between grape scented deodorizer foot spray, or bubblegum scented deodorizer foot spray. If you're not interested in a liquid we also have a grape scented deodorizer foot powder and a bubblegum scented deodorizer foot powder! Speaking of various strange childhood odors, we have a blog post all about that.
One of the earliest memories I have is deep conversations with my mother at least twice a day. When I'd go in to help her with making dinner we would have some very frank conversations, at bed she'd come in to tuck me in and we'd discuss what happened for the day or whatever was on my mind. I can't pinpoint when this started, she'd been doing it for as long as I can remember and I appreciated every moment.
Playing on the aforementioned rituals, it can be extremely helpful to fill in some quiet in-between moments with conversation. We often think that talking means looking into each other's eyes, but the truth is that being parallel to one another is advantageous. There is a reason that the conversations with my mother while preparing dinner were more meaningful on the whole than the ones before bed.
Kids can find it difficult to translate their thoughts and emotions into words. Encourage your children to tell a story and assist them when it seems needed. Ask what they think about this, or how they feel about that and truly listen to the answer. This type of practice will benefit your children endlessly later in life. Emotional literacy will encourage relationships and open communication with everyone.
I've met a large portion of adults that can't properly communicate their innermost thoughts and feelings without attaching some sort of detrimental emotion to it. Some people choose anger, others utilize sadness, while yet another fraction implements despondence. Those negative emotions will slide to the wayside as emotional literacy is improved.
Be A Human
Something much easier said than done. You need to respond with real emotion and your actual opinion when your child asks a question. Sure, you might temper the answer a little bit but you need to ensure that you are being honest. Actually respond to statements and stories, don't just smile and nod. Become invested in the story and ask for clarification on things you don't understand. Kids can feel when you aren't being genuine, and they'll shut you out for it in no time flat.
Lead The Way
If your child finds it difficult to open up, then it can really help if you start things off. At the dinner table, spend some time telling them about your day and they'll respond in kind. Avoid asking clunky questions like "How was school?" as this will break a conversation quicker than anything else. Simply say your piece and leave the door open for your child to say their. They absolutely will, because your child wants to relate to you just as much as you want to relate with them.
Kids are shockingly perceptive and if you think you'll open up a conversation while you're occupied and fiddling with your amazing smart phone, it's never going to happen. Pay attention to your amazing children! Kids want to feel like they are being heard, and even if you are able to absorb the story and ask questions about it they won't be inclined to continue the conversation any further.
Once your child finishes a story, keep the lines of communication open by asking some questions and offering a bit of advice. Don't ever turn this into a lecture. Keep your advice short and sweet. Allow your kids to ask follow-up questions if they'd like to. As your relationship with your children grows and the lines of communications are strengthened, they will ask those follow-ups because they are truly planning to implement that advice. That is a fantastic feeling.