Getting Your Child to Open Up

Open Communication Kids

“How was your day, honey?”

“Fine.”

“What did you do at school?”

“Nothing.”

Anyone else have conversations with you kids like this one? Even with my three year old, it’s like pulling teeth some days to get him to talk.

As a teacher, it baffled me when a kid’s response to their daily happenings was, “nothing.” Nothing? We read a new story, played reading games, experimented with states of matter, and built geometric figures. That doesn’t sound like nothing to me!

Communication is an essential human need. How a person communicates defines who they are, what they need, and how the like to interact with others.

Children crave this human interaction, too. However, our kids may need help on finding the best way for them to communicate with others.

Thankfully, there isn’t a ‘one size fit all’ way for a children to communicate appropriately. Here are a few tips on finding a way to open up the lines of commutation with your child:

Be Specific

Some kids need guidance in discussions. Instead of leaving it a broad question (‘How was school today’) ask a specific question that would pertain to your child. “Who did you sit by a lunch today?”, “What instrument did you try in music class?”, “What was the journal question this morning?” Specific question can then lead to your child opening up about more aspects of their day.

Look to Their Teachers

Does your child’s teacher send home the weekly lesson plans or have a website they update regularly? These tools can help to offer prompts such as, “Who was the Mystery Reader today?” or “Tell me about the experiment you did in science.” Additionally, if you have a question about your child’s day, send a quick email to the teacher!

Give Them a Break

After a long day at school, our kids need some time to decompress. Let them put their backpack down, grab a snack, and relax a bit before diving into the day. Think about when you come home from work- aren’t you more inclined to open up about your day once you’ve had time to unwind?

Put the Phone Down

If you want your kids to talk with you, give them your attention. I know that after school is super busy with activities, sports, dinner, and homework. But even giving your child five minutes of uninterrupted talk time is huge!

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

This idea has many different names (rose/thorn, sweet/sour), but we use ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down.’ I just ask my son to tell me a thumbs up about his day, and then a thumbs down. This makes them be thoughtful about what happened during their day, and can lead to deeper conversations.

Model, Model, Model

There is an old teacher instructional model called, “I do, we do, you do.” You model something, then you do it together, and then the student tries this on their own. This works with communicating too! Model for your child how to share and connect with others. Opening up to your child about your day will make them more inclined to share with you.

Different Forms of Communications

My three year old loves telling me about his day at school. He is quite animated when he speaks! But I realize there will come day when he isn’t going to be as willing to open up. Find what works best for you and your child. Are they more eager to talk with the group at the dinner table? Is bed time one-on-one the prime time? Maybe a quick text to your older child to tell them you can’t wait to hear about their day will get them chatting. Fellow contributor, Cyndra, wrote about How to Start A Mother-Daughter Journal.

Getting your child to open up is all about finding what works for you and your family. Try a few different strategies and see what works best for opening the lines of communication.

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