Image from Big Brothers and Sisters
You want your kids to feel free to speak with you about anything that crosses their minds. You want them to perceive you as “cool” enough to handle well whatever they are thinking and feeling. What can you do to encourage your kids to speak freely with you, even about difficult topics, and to rest comfortably in the knowledge that you are “cool” enough to handle each such situation well?
Invite your kids to talk to you. It sounds all too simple, but many parents simply overlook this. All you need to say is, “Please know that you can talk to me about anything. If you just need me to listen, I can listen. If you need information, I will provide that for you to the best of my ability. Whatever is on your mind or in your heart, you can tell me about it.”
Ask your kids questions about their lives; act interested in their answers, in their lives. Questions may include: “How was your day at school?” or “How is your friend doing now that he’s had surgery?”
Make time for the discussions that are important to your kids and give your kids your undivided attention. We all have busy lives, but don’t miss those precious opportunities to hear about and respond to what your kids are thinking and feeling. When your kids tell you that they need to talk about something that is troubling or confusing them, stop whatever you are doing, and just listen.
Ensure that your verbiage and body language are accepting, non-judgmental. If your kids tell you something about which you feel judgmental, do not project that. Judging others puts an emotional and behavioral distance between you and them. It also makes others less likely to share thoughts and feelings with you in the future. Instead, if your kids present you with a discussion that may trigger judgment, offer support instead.
If, during your discussion with your kids, you promised to do something, do it. Then, follow up with your kids to let them know that you did the promised task.
By following these tips, you can encourage your kids to speak freely with you, even about difficult topics, and to rest comfortably in the knowledge that you are “cool” enough to handle each such situation well.
Candi Wingate is our resident go to expert with all things Nanny related. Candi is the founder of Nannies4hire.com, Babysitters4hire.com, Care4hire.com and a Nanny Agency.Candi also wrote a book “100 Tips For Nannies & Families” plus is a wife and mother of 2.