Your Child's Secrets:
7 Steps to help your kids tell you what's on their minds.
by Susie E. Caron ( c) 7/28/2014
There are a few times during a day, when kids will open up about the confusing or difficult situations they encounter. These tend to be bed time, dinner time, or while traveling in the car. To take advantage of those times you will need to be ready and willing to listen, and at least momentarily undistracted.
It will take a minute for your child to begin to talk with you. However, it only takes a few seconds for you child to give up - if you appear too busy, annoyed or rushed. That's because children worry they will be judged "silly, or worse" for wanting to talk about their concerns. Being prepared for these encounters is important while your children are very small as well as later. If your children don't get a chance to tell you while they are little, about things that may be important or scary, they are less likely to tell you later, when they are in their teens. I am sure that you want your children to talk with you.
Here are seven steps to help you to prepare and respond to your child's concerns.
1. First be ready, willing and able to notice a change in your child's usual demeanor and tone. Children, like adults have a way of navigating their lives and a method of attack! When that changes to something a bit 'out of the ordinary', it's time to pay attention. Use all three of your eyes: the two in your head and the one on your instinctive self. Trust your instincts.
2. Approach gently, carefully when you ask "What would you like to talk with me about?" Try to sit beside rather than in front of your child. Kids are afraid to be thought wrong, stupid or foolish. Make sure, your child knows he or she can always talk with you about anything.
3. Listen patiently and carefully, without trying to 'fix anything'. Just listen and ask questions so you really get the whole picture.
4. Thank your child for trusting you enough to share this important information. Really be genuine about thanking your child. This is an important incentive for your child to share more, now and in the future.
5. Comfort your child by validating how he/she feels. Say things like, "Wow how did that make you feel? Then add something true such as "I wonder if you also felt mad or sad?" etc.
6. If your child has done something 'wrong', or has misbehaved, repeat #4 and #5 above, but add "because you told me instead of me finding out some other way, I ______________. Here you will pick an appropriate response and at the same time let your child know that the consequences are much less, because he/she told you him/herself.
7. If there is something you need to check on, (behavior on the bus) or someone you need to speak with, (the child's teacher) let your child know. Tell your child that it's your job to help them.
These 7 tips can help you to be ready when your child is hesitant but needs to tell you something. Remember, children don't know what information is important. However, they feel very different when something doesn't seem right to them. Be ready and open so they can come to you with anything.
If we listen, our children can teach us all a lot.
Remember Twee' Means You & Me
Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!