I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. Will my children always feel free to talk to me? I suspect that, as my kids get older, they might not always want to tell me what’s on their hearts. Even now, while they are still very young, the news they share about their day at school or time they spent playing with friends is becoming vaguer. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m nagging, and that bugs them, or maybe it’s just an age thing and part of them growing up and becoming more independent, and this means they share a little less.
Whatever the reason… it bothers me!
There was one incident in particular that stands out; I went to fetch my daughter from school. I was a little early, so I decided to hang back and just watch her play. As I stood near the play area I saw her running around with her friends.
They knelt down near a tree and the next second there was wailing, I could hear my little one repeating ‘I promise I didn’t hurt her”, “I promise I didn’t hurt her”
Now you can imagine the scene. I knew I shouldn’t interfere, the teacher handling it, but my maternal instincts were screaming, that’s your child INTERFERE :) I saw the girls giggle and run off again, so I knew it had been handled well by the teacher.
We climbed into the car and I began to ask about her day, making sure I poked and prodded about the incident I just saw. Eventually, she looked at me and said “Enough mommy, I don’t want to talk about it”
There you have it… My daughter just shut me out. (She’s almost 4)
Turns out the girls were playing Frozen and were throwing sand in the air as snow and sand got into the other little one’s eyes. Totally innocent!
I must admit that even though I know it is going to happen, I don’t like the idea of my kids not always feeling like they can talk to me. Like any parent I want them to know that they can trust me and my judgment. So it got me thinking. How do I encourage my kids to know that I am always willing to listen?
Here are my thoughts.
- Make time for conversation
- Be willing to really LISTEN – not always talk – be quiet – it’s not about you
- Let them just talk – don’t interrupt
- Be Mindful about what you hear (show respect and understanding)
- Don’t show judgment (even if you feel it)
- Always be encouraging
- Be positive -smile -nod
- Make them feel like their topic of conversation is the most important topic right now
- Talk about and work through different solutions/emotions
- Check-in a few days later :)
I might not always get this right, I’m probably going to fail at this many times over. However, I’m hoping that I will remember these tips when in conversation with my children, whatever their age. I don’t want them to ever feel as if I am too busy. Because, in reality, it only takes a second to put down my phone, or stop washing the dishes, etc. and that second can have an impact that lasts forever!
What tips do you have in creating conversations with your children?