As your children become older and move through successive grades at school, you may feel out of touch with much of their days. When they were little, you were their world. The intensive physical needs of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers meant that you were intimately acquainted with their life.
So when as they grow and spend much of their time at school, you may feel out of touch. You want to know more about their days. Staying informed and involved is important to parents. But often, children, tweens, and teens don’t share as much as we’d like them to.
If this is the case in your family, consider the following approaches.
Choose Open-Ended Questions
Sometimes you just have to know how to ask questions to get the responses you want. Choosing questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no often is not effective.
Rather, offer open-ended questions. Ask what activities they did in gym or recess. See if they can identify a favorite thing their teacher does. Ask what the seating arrangement in class is like. You can even brainstorm these types of questions and keep them on hand.
Foster Natural Conversations
Think about your conversations with friends. If a friend came up to you and launched into a series of questions about your day, you might feel like you’re being interrogated. You’re more likely to spend time sharing events and frustrations in your life. You ask each other clarifying questions as needed and offer encouragement.
Foster this conversational approach in your home. Set an example by talking openly about your own day. Share stories about your own childhood and what you liked and didn’t like about school. Remembering what it was like to be a child can build important empathy toward your own child. And kids often have a hard time believing their parents were children once. Creating this mutual connection can do wonders.
Often, children interact differently with siblings, peers, or even their other parent. When they’re busy playing or hanging out at home, take the time to quietly listen in. You may find your child spontaneously sharing the type of information you wish they’d share with you.
This doesn’t mean they are keeping things from you or don’t like talking to you. Children are often more relaxed and natural when they’re at play. This is a way for you to learn about what’s happening in their world in an indirect manner. You’ll have more insight and possibly a new perspective on their life.
Sometimes kids feel intimidated when they’re sitting down at the table and facing questions. Like adults, sometimes kids become more open if you’re busy doing an activity together. Pursue their interest with them. Try out something new together. Do chores together. As you do this, they may naturally open up on their own.
If you notice consistent changes in your child’s mood or behavior, pay attention. Many things can affect a child’s emotional and social development. Perhaps they used to talk openly about their day at school but don’t anymore. If they seem more sad, withdrawn, anxious, or irritable, there could be a reason. Maybe they’re being bullied, or a friend has moved on.
In cases like these, reaching out to their teachers for more insight can be wise. Likewise, seeking counseling for your child can help greatly. Sometimes a child’s reticence is just part of being tired or introverted. But this isn’t always the case.
If you’re trying to connect with your child but your efforts aren’t working, please know that therapy can be very helpful. Please call our office to learn more.