You can’t put a price on a happy relationship or a healthy family. When you’re able to talk with your child about the things that matter to them, you can build a bond of trust and empathy. You can help them learn to express their feelings and hopefully encourage them to understand theirs. Make time together, get the most out of your conversations with your child, and practice intentional parenting.
Be ready to connect
The first step toward any meaningful conversation is connecting. This means connecting on an emotional level with your child. You’re the only one who can truly do this, and it’s the foundation of any healthy relationship. It all starts with your willingness to let them into your heart.
Set the right tone
The best way to begin a conversation with your child is to set a good example. You can do this by being emotionally available during times of need. This might be when they’re having a hard day at school or dealing with a stressful event in their life. You can be the one to offer support, not simply because they need it, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Be a good listener
Connecting with your child doesn’t just happen in response to their needs; it’s a two-way street. You need to let them know that they can come to you, not just when they’re feeling lonely or sad, but when they need help to solve a problem or come up with new ideas. This might be a daily occurrence, like when they’re asking you to help them with their math homework. Or it might be an occasional request, like when you’re trying to come up with a birthday gift for them.
Take time to get to know each other.
You can’t get to know a person if you haven’t ever sat down and been able to talk. Maybe you’ve had long talks about your families and your lives, or maybe you’ve asked them questions about their interests and hobbies. When you’re able to connect with your child and pay attention to them, you can hear what they have to say. When you’re able to get to know each other, you have a chance to learn about each other’s personalities and learn more about your family’s history.
Help your child understand their feelings.
The way to encourage your child to understand their feelings is to help them understand yours. You can start by talking about your own experiences. These stories can help to illuminate your own experience and shed light on what’s happening for your child.
The best way to encourage your child’s self-expression is to be open to it. You don’t need to develop prompts or ideas for every activity your child wants to do or participate in. You can model being a good listener by letting your child talk about whatever they want. If they want to draw something, you can look at the pictures they’ve made and ask them questions about their ideas. The more you let your child be “the boss” when it comes to their activities, the more likely they feel confident and ready to express themselves on their terms.
Be ready to discuss difficult topics.
Although it’s best to talk to your child while they’re young, even older kids can have some things to discuss. There are many important topics to discuss with your child, and some of them may be difficult. It’s important to be prepared for these moments and have good strategies. The more you talk about certain topics, the better equipped you’ll be to discuss those topics with your child.
If you’re hoping to have more meaningful conversations with your child, you’ll need to make time. You can’t force it, and it might not happen right away. You can do some things, though, to help encourage healthy communication with your child.