Getting your Kids to Open Up... Especially During Quarantine!

August 13, 2020

getting-kids-to-open-up

Getting kids to open up and provide more than monosyllabic answers is never easy.  As challenging as it may be, talking to your kids everyday can help you to stay connected and lets you check in to see how they are doing!  It is important especially these days with the pandemic and kids not having their social structure that they typically get from going back to school.
We’ve put together a few of our favorite ways to get kids to open up.  Comment below to let us know if you have any other habits that work well for you and your kids.

1. Highs and Lows Habit
You have probably heard of this trend and may do it yourself already! If not, we think this is a great starting place for getting your kids to open up. This is a daily conversation where you share your favorite part of the day and your least favorite part of the day with the family. Everyone takes a turn sharing and talking through some of the not-so-fun moments and celebrating the great ones!
This conversational habit is so great because you can approach and present it any way you want. You can call it peaks and valleys, best and worst, cool and uncool… just make sure to use your own language that your child is comfortable with. 
In addition to making a space where kids can feel comfortable talking about stressful parts of their day, you also create a constant in their day (which is especially important during times like these)

2. Parent + Kid Journal
A shared journal is a great way to communicate through more uncomfortable topics or to speak with a child who has trouble expressing their emotions.
All you have to do is buy a specific journal that is shared just between you and your child. If your child has anything they want to talk through, they can jot it down in the journal and give it to you or leave it in a designated spot. Then, you can write your response and do the same to return the book.
While this may seem like beating around the bush on some issues, the act of writing something out and not having to bring it up in conversation is extremely stress reducing for kids. Specifically if the entries have to do with body image, bullying, things they may think they’ll get in trouble for, etc.
The important thing is to make sure your child understands that nothing written in the book will be judged or create anger and that it is purely a way to communicate.

3. Ask Questions that Draw Out Conversation
We can all fall into the habit of asking everyday yes or no questions. “Did you have a good day?” “Did you have fun at your friends house?” “Did you finish your homework?” While these aren’t bad questions necessarily, they don’t ask your child to open up about their day specifically.
Try asking open-ended questions that require more of an explanation like “What happened at school today?” “How is your friend doing?” “What did you go over in math?”
If you know of something that your child is looking forward to or cares about a lot, asking specific questions about this is a great way to come up with open-ended questions!

4. Use Car Rides for Conversations
Face to face conversations can be tough for kids - they get tongue-tied because they feel put on the spot.  Somehow being in the back seat of the car takes the pressure off and they start to open up.  So unplug and utilize the time you spend chauffeuring them from one activity to another to connect. 
In a similar vein, you can also take the focus off the conversation by doing an activity together - either by going out and throwing / kicking around a ball, coloring side by side, building legos, etc …  

5. UNPLUG and Listen
Having your phone ring or ping while you are talking to your child is a distraction and while it may be a split second, it may make your child feel like you’re not listening.  The simple act of ignoring the ring or ping shows our kids that they are worthy of our full undivided attention and what they are saying matters to us.    
Better yet, unplug completely so you can stay focused and make sure your kids feel heard and continue to share.  This also provides a time for you and your family to communicate along with setting an example of boundaries for technology.  

No matter what you choose to try, the important thing is to give kids their space but stay available so that they know you are there for them!




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