Do you find it tough to engage your child in a dialogue? Here are a few strategies that can help you engage in meaningful conversations with him.
By Amrita Gracias
Parents always try their best to develop a close and loving relationship with their children. During a child’s infancy and toddlerhood, parents don’t have to work too hard to bond with him. But, as the child steps into teenage, cracks begin to appear in the relationship. Often, this is because of the incessant power struggles between the parent and the child.
However, through meaningful conversation, parents can connect with their children, and develop and enjoy a good relationship with them. Meaningful conversations help in laying the foundation of a happy and healthy parent–child relationship. It also helps children understand that their parents are willing to listen to their ideas, opinions and experiences. This, in turn, teaches them to be empathetic and compassionate towards others as well. So, how would you enter into a meaningful conversation with your child? Here are some pointers.
1. Choose the right time and place: While you are trying to get your child to talk to you, make sure that you choose the right place to strike a conversation. Home is often the best place, but having a nice chat while you both take a walk or drive around is also a good option. Take care to not start a conversation at a wrong time, such as when your child feels hungry, tired or distracted. Also, don’t be disappointed if your child seems reluctant to engage with you initially. Over time, he will warm up to you and begin sharing his experiences.
2. Listen and acknowledge: Yes, there are times when your child might initiate a conversation. Surprising as it might be, listen to her with undivided attention and a lot of enthusiasm. This would encourage your child to share her thoughts with you more often. Also, listening to your child would help you understand her feelings and what she wishes to communicate. When your child is upset or disappointed, and pours her heart out to you, acknowledge her feelings. Avoid criticising, blaming, shaming, advising or lecturing at such times.
3. Connect and involve yourself: A great way to get your child to converse with you is to connect with him. Your child is as curious about you as much as you are about him. He is very much interested in knowing about the goings-on in your life. So, try to talk to him every day about how your day went. This will make him understand that, like him, you also experience sadness, excitement, anxiety and disappointment. Or, you can also talk about your experiences while growing up. Sharing your personal experiences would provide your child with the support and encouragement he needs to voice his worries or fears to you. This will further strengthen your relationship.
4. Be patient and sensitive: When you attempt to initiate a conversation or your child has a whole lot to say, be patient and express your support. Be sensitive to her feelings and tolerant of her mistakes. Don’t rush to judge, reprimand or offer a solution. Sometimes, she doesn’t need your advice but just wants you to listen to what she has to say. In fact, she might come up with her own solution by talking about the problem. Also, do not reprimand your child for any mistake she may confess to committing, as this would not lead to a positive outcome.
5. Mind your tone and body language: When you initiate a conversation, use a pleasant tone, as children do not respond well to a demanding one. Word your questions appropriately to evoke a positive response. Make sure your body language conveys the fact that you are eager to engage in the conversation. Your tone and gestures must communicate that you are willing and eager to listen and interact. All these would encourage your child to engage in a meaningful discussion with you. So, pay heed to the tone of your voice and your body language.
Involving your child in meaningful conversations is a great way to make him understand that sharing his joys, frustrations or anxieties with you is indeed helpful. And, most importantly, this would lay the foundations of a relationship that both of you would value greatly.
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