4-year old girl with dark brown hair blows on a dandelion

Tips For Getting to Know Your Children

A parent doesn’t need to be their kids’ best friend, but something more than a grunt when we ask about their day sure would be nice. Parents can take advantage of hidden opportunities to create one-on-one time with each of their children. But how can you get your kids to open up and talk with you?

Here are some strategies to get your kids to talk with you. Keep in mind that the more they get used to it, the more natural it will become over time.

Focus on Small Talk

Any time you’re alone with your child, even if it’s just a drive to school or cleaning out the garage, it’s a chance to talk and get them to feel more comfortable. It’s also important to notice the little conversation openers your kids offer and focus on responding to them.

The way you respond to a child’s overture is crucial to building closeness. It’s an opportunity for them to see if they can count on you to talk and listen when they need it.

Be Present

Some kids take longer to open up. Even if they reject having a conversation with you, instead of closing the door and walking away, accept that they don’t want to talk, but see if you can just hang out with them anyway. If you keep them company, your presence will eventually offer an opportunity to talk.

If they are crying, simply lie down and rub their back. If they are busy doing homework, ask if you can read on their bed while they work. If you are present, they are more likely to open up. But if they don’t, your presence might still be calming. Saying, “Something seems to be upsetting you so I thought I would be here for you” is an act of support in and of itself. At the very least, they will know just how much you care.

Be A Good Listener, Not An Adviser

Kids want to be heard and understood, therefore as parents you shouldn’t rush to give your two cents as this can rub them the wrong way. Bite your tongue if you must. Some kids do not verbalize their emotions quickly. In that case, nodding and showing that you are listening will help them feel more comfortable and continue to talk.

Unless they ask for it, don’t provide them with advice. Using sentences like “That must have been so hard” or “That must made you so angry” instead will help keep the conversation going.

Create Bonding Time

Connecting with your kids is very important and creating special bonding time makes them feel valued. Why not have a monthly Dad and daughter brunch or play a sport together once a week. Or even, just watching something on TV together. Use the moment you have with them to catch up on their life. Kids often wait for these special times with parents to bring up something that’s bothering them.

Be Patient & Give Them Space

Your child may or may not want to talk due to their personality. It’s essential for your kids not to feel pressured into talking, otherwise it’ll only make them act more distant. Every child is just starting to learn what emotions are and how to handle them. Give them the time and space they need to feel strong or comfortable enough to talk to you about how they are feeling. They will eventually come to you when they are ready.

Questions You Can Ask to Get To Know Your Kids

Kids are constantly changing and trying to find themselves. One day they’re completely into something and the next, their interest has shifted towards something totally different. This means as parents, your job of getting to know your kids never ends. Here’s a list of questions you can ask your kids at every age level to get to open up.

Ages 3-5

  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • Who is your favorite friend?
  • What is your favorite game to play?
  • What is your favorite treat?
  • What is your favorite part of the day?

Ages 6-11

  • What is something I do that makes you feel loved?
  • Who is your favorite teacher? Why?
  • What is something that cheers you up when you’re sad?
  • What’s your favorite thing we do as a family?
  • What is something you’re good at?

Ages 11-14

  • What is your favorite game?
  • Who is your favorite character?
  • If you could be good at one thing, what would it be?
  • Who is your least favorite teacher?
  • What is your favorite thing to watch?

Ages 14-18

  • Who do you like spending time with and why?
  • What is one bad habit you wish you could break?
  • Where do you hope to travel or live one day?
  • How would you describe yourself in three words?
  • What’s your favorite memory?

At the end of the day, as a parent, you not only want your child to open up and feel comfortable expressing their emotions, but actually enjoy talking to you. Taking the right approach and not forcing the conversation will help to build a stronger bond with your child and improve your relationship.