Younger children have no trouble talking non-stop about their day, what happened to their friend, or what is going to happen tomorrow. But as they mature towards their teenage years, many of them become quiet when with their parents.
There are strategies that you can use to get your kids to talk with you. The more you do it, the easier it will become for them.
1. Respond to conversation openers.
If you respond immediately with interest when they indicate they want to talk; they will notice that they are more important than what you were doing. Your willingness to be available will develop a closeness with your child. You want to be the one they can count on when they need to talk.
2. Ask non-judgemental questions.
You don’t want your child to become defensive when you question them. Ask questions that don't require an answer about themselves, but preferably ones that will give you a clear insight into their day without them feeling interrogated.
3. Don’t react impulsively with advice and solutions.
Allow your child to first vent, because no solution will materialize until they get their emotions out of their system. Then they will be capable of figuring out a solution together with you. This way, they will develop confidence and will see they are competent enough to solve a problem. They will be more likely to talk to you when they have a problem.
4. Make a one-on-one connection
Find time every day to connect with each child. It builds closeness and trust, and as they get older, their willingness to volunteer vulnerable emotions will happen naturally.
5. Communicate naturally
You should not have to wait for your one-on-one time to start a conversation with your child. Anytime you are together is a good time. Maybe while you are walking the dogs or driving in the car. The limited amount of eye contact can help them open up.
An essential part of helping your children open up is to listen. Be sure you show them that you understand and allow them to continue talking. Don't speak; just listen.
Communicating as a family will role model how your family operates. Your children will imitate this behavior, and as they mature and will hopefully continue with open communication in their adult relationships.
8. Don’t judge
Children have a lot of expectation on their shoulders from peers to teachers. Don’t add even more unneeded expectations onto them if you know it’s going to put too much pressure on them.