Talk isn't cheap


 
 

Karen Ross

You to your child: How was your day, honey?

Your child: OK.
You: What did you do?
Child: (rolls eyes) Nothing.
You: Nothing?
Child: Not really.
You: Did you have a good day?
Child: Yes.
You: Why?
Child: (shrugs) Just because.
Sound familiar? Getting your child to communicate-in a meaningful way-can be challenging. But there are tricks of the trade you can use to improve communication and your relationship.
Try some of these great tried-and-true two-way communication ideas from moms and dads who have been there.
But of course, be careful what you wish for…
Bone up on your
listening skills
Probably the most important advice the expert parents provided is something that's not always easy to do when life is rushing by: listen. No, really listen.
"Really be interested in what they're saying," says Bill Scully, dad of Katie, 21, and Sam, 16. "Don't just feign interest, really be interested. Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything. Don't shy away from any subject."
Annie Scully adds: "It's important to let your kids know you're always there if they have something to talk about. I don't think you can tell them this too much."
Most important, don't be too judgmental, they both say. It you are, the less likely the kids will come to you with a problem or question.
Monica Johnson, mom of Alex, 23, and Anna, 21, agrees.
"I have always tried to remember the names of the people my kids talk about, to remember specific things that they mention, and then I follow up later by asking them something specific about what they'd told me, like, 'How did it go with Megan asking Jake to Turnabout?' Then, they knew their story mattered to me, and they were happy to give me the latest update on the situation."
Betsy Dudak, mom of Leah, 18, and Matthew, 15, says it's OK to show you really care. "Without making the child feel insecure or worried, it is OK to show tears or express anger, disappointment, sadness," she says.
Become a sleuth
But sometimes parents need to get a little creative to encourage communication.
"When my children were in elementary school, I would ask, 'How was your day, and answer with the letter 'B,' or 'P,' making them giggle when they tried to think of a word. This always led to additional conversation," says Lisa Howard, mom of Jeremy, 22, and Travis, 18.
Kathy Boyce, mom of Kyle, 18, and Mitchell, 15, checks out the school website and school announcements-and her kids' friends-for conversation starters. "Then I can ask specific questions about their day and their classes," she says. "When it comes to finding out about my boys' love interests, I ask my sons' friends, who will quickly give up bits of information just to see (my son's) reaction and embarrassment. It is usually enough to start a conversation."
Johnson says written communication can be helpful-"especially when the situation is sensitive, or when tempers are heated and we can't listen without interrupting each other."
Writing notes back and forth makes both sides take time to listen before answering. "It might start out a little roughly, or with hesitation, but if given time, it clears the air enough to get the door to open a crack and the conversation can usually be finished face to face."
Have fun together
Is it possible to tee up good times to talk with your child? The parent experts say yes, and these activities don't have to be over-the-top.
"My kids say it's huge that we have dinner together almost every night. It is our time to talk about our day, which leads to deeper things ... or sillier," Dudak says.
"I found going to a 'neutral' setting made my kids seem to open up more," Howard says. "So I would suggest going out every once in a while after school, to a place of their choice, for an appetizer. You would be surprised how a little 'away' time works for both of you!"
Dudak says: "We spend a lot of times with our kids doing things we all like: biking, sailing, movies, dinners, listening to music, talking current events. You have to be willing to do things with them."
"I think the biggest and most important thing is we laugh together-a lot. We have inside jokes and look at things the same way. It's a great thing to have unconditional laughter."
Karen Ross is the mother of two boys, James, 22, and Dan, 20. She spent most of their childhoods trying to get them to talk and is happy to report they can actually hold meaningful conversations now.

You to your child: How was your day, honey?

Your child: OK.

You: What did you do?

Child: (rolls eyes) Nothing.

You: Nothing?

Child: Not really.

You: Did you have a good day?

Child: Yes.

You: Why?

Child: (shrugs) Just because.

Sound familiar? Getting your child to communicate-in a meaningful way-can be challenging. But there are tricks of the trade you can use to improve communication and your relationship.

Try some of these great tried-and-true two-way communication ideas from moms and dads who have been there.

But of course, be careful what you wish for…

Bone up on your listening skills

Probably the most important advice the expert parents provided is something that's not always easy to do when life is rushing by: listen. No, really listen.

"Really be interested in what they're saying," says Bill Scully, dad of Katie, 21, and Sam, 16. "Don't just feign interest, really be interested. Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything. Don't shy away from any subject."

Annie Scully adds: "It's important to let your kids know you're always there if they have something to talk about. I don't think you can tell them this too much."

Most important, don't be too judgmental, they both say. It you are, the less likely the kids will come to you with a problem or question.

Monica Johnson, mom of Alex, 23, and Anna, 21, agrees.

"I have always tried to remember the names of the people my kids talk about, to remember specific things that they mention, and then I follow up later by asking them something specific about what they'd told me, like, 'How did it go with Megan asking Jake to Turnabout?' Then, they knew their story mattered to me, and they were happy to give me the latest update on the situation."

Betsy Dudak, mom of Leah, 18, and Matthew, 15, says it's OK to show you really care. "Without making the child feel insecure or worried, it is OK to show tears or express anger, disappointment, sadness," she says.

Become a sleuth

But sometimes parents need to get a little creative to encourage communication.

"When my children were in elementary school, I would ask, 'How was your day, and answer with the letter 'B,' or 'P,' making them giggle when they tried to think of a word. This always led to additional conversation," says Lisa Howard, mom of Jeremy, 22, and Travis, 18.

Kathy Boyce, mom of Kyle, 18, and Mitchell, 15, checks out the school website and school announcements-and her kids' friends-for conversation starters. "Then I can ask specific questions about their day and their classes," she says. "When it comes to finding out about my boys' love interests, I ask my sons' friends, who will quickly give up bits of information just to see (my son's) reaction and embarrassment. It is usually enough to start a conversation."

Johnson says written communication can be helpful-"especially when the situation is sensitive, or when tempers are heated and we can't listen without interrupting each other."

Writing notes back and forth makes both sides take time to listen before answering. "It might start out a little roughly, or with hesitation, but if given time, it clears the air enough to get the door to open a crack and the conversation can usually be finished face to face."

Have fun together

Is it possible to tee up good times to talk with your child? The parent experts say yes, and these activities don't have to be over-the-top.

"My kids say it's huge that we have dinner together almost every night. It is our time to talk about our day, which leads to deeper things ... or sillier," Dudak says.

"I found going to a 'neutral' setting made my kids seem to open up more," Howard says. "So I would suggest going out every once in a while after school, to a place of their choice, for an appetizer. You would be surprised how a little 'away' time works for both of you!"

Dudak says: "We spend a lot of times with our kids doing things we all like: biking, sailing, movies, dinners, listening to music, talking current events. You have to be willing to do things with them."

 

 
 



 
 
 
Copyright 2014 Wednesday Journal Inc. All rights reserved. Chicago web development by liQuidprint