Practicing good parent-child communication is an excellent way to teach social and communication skills, which children will need to successfully move into adulthood.
Communication with your child can be difficult, especially in the tween and teen years.It can be like extracting water from a rock. If you feel like conversations with your kid (s) get you nowhere, try using some of the conversation starters below.
- What rules do you follow at school? Why?
- I see you had a problem with your teacher today. Tell me what happened and let’s see if we can work together on a way to clear up the problem.
- I think you made a great drawing. Tell me why you picked the colors that you did. How did you think to draw that?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- Is there someone you know who you would almost always be willing to do what he or she says? Who is that person?
- Let’s do something fun tomorrow. What do you think would be fun?
- Let’s play copycat. You do everything I do. Later I’ll copy everything you do. What did I do that you had the most fun copying? Why? What else do I do that you do?
- Tell me about a time you felt (happy, sad, afraid, angry) during the day today.
- Tell me about one person you met or played with today.
- Tell me about one thing that happened today.
- What three words would you use to tell another person about yourself? Why those three words?
- What makes you angry? What do you do when you’re angry?
- What scares you? What do you do when you’re scared?
- Tell me one good thing that happened at school today.
- What are our family rules? Why do we need them?
- What do you like best to do with (a member of the family)? Why?
- What characteristic do you like best about a family member? Why?
- What do you want to be when you grow up? What makes you want to be that?
- What is your favorite thing to do?
- When do you feel bored? What do you do to stop being bored?
- Who is your favorite character on TV or in a book? What makes them your favorite? Would you like to be like the character? What do they do that you would copy?
- Who’s your best friend?
- One of the best ways to get a conversation started is to ask open-ended questions; questions that can’t be answered with yes or no.
- If your child says ‘I don’t know’, which kids often do, say “that’s OK, think about it for a minute I can wait”. If they give the same answer, respond with: “take some more time, or I’m patient, think about it some more.”
- If giving more time doesn’t work, offer some suggestions — some that make no sense and are funny, some that could be correct, or some that you hope aren’t correct.
- If this doesn’t work the first time, keep trying. The best thing about parenting is it isn’t a perfect science and you get unlimited ‘do overs.’
- Most importantly, don’t take resistance, silence or your child’s discomfort personally. Avoid getting upset or losing your patience, because if you do you will lose a great opportunity to connect with your child and to help them develop an invaluable skill – communication.