We have all been there – picking up your child from school and discussing how their day was. Having that opportunity to engage with your child who is so eager to share what they have got up to. That is where I am with my youngest who is 9 years old and I love it. However, I didn’t realise how easily the opportunity to have a conversation with your child can disappear until my eldest son hit his teens. I feel pretty lucky that he still enjoys family time and talks about his day etc but in case you have a teen who is reluctant to make conversation I thought I would share some tips that have worked for me.
Ideas to support conversations with a teen
Pick a casual topic
Pick a topic a casual topic rather than only talking to them when they have done something wrong or talking about feelings and relationships. For example, bring up something that has happened in the news, something you have noticed in the local area, discuss a movie or TV programme you have recently watched.
Use family dinner time
It is the perfect time to encourage a conversation as you have a captive audience around the table. I know it is hard for working parents to get the time to sit together every night but I do encourage you to try to have a few days a week that you try to do this.
You can use this time to discuss ideas for holidays, weekends, movies, sports events etc.
If the conversation is drying up we often play the Alphabet game. We do this at home or even when we are out for dinner (no phones are allowed out during dinner time be that at home or if we are out). We decide on a topic – tv characters, sports personalities, capital cities, countries etc. and then we go around the table thinking of answers for the particular letter of the alphabet we are on. It’s a great game and even the grumpiest teen can’t help but get involved.
Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer
What are you enjoying about Taekwondo at the moment? What is the most interesting topic you are studying at school? How do you think Liverpool are doing at the moment?
Talking while driving or walking
I love the opportunity I get to drive my sons to their extracurricular activities because I get to just talk to them about anything and they are very responsive. I think this may be due to the fact that there are fewer distractions and no eye contact so they more relaxed – whatever it is I highly recommend drives or walks they both seem to result in a free-flowing conversation.
Has anyone else found that too?
I think this is a great thing to try with all children but especially reluctant talkers.
We tend to discuss the songs that are playing or the news on the radio, the cars that are going past, conversations about schools, friends etc seem to flow better in the car too.
Take the opportunity before your child falls asleep to sit will them in the dark for a couple of minutes. Perch on the foot of their bed and share your gratitude for the day with each other. Taking a moment to be thankful is such a good habit to get into for all ages.
Once you have done that stick around for a couple of minutes in case they want to ask/tell you anything. Sometimes you can prompt them by asking if they are ready for bed or if they have anything on their mind they would like to share. Most children will feel safe enough in the dark to talk if something is bothering them. It works really well.
These are just a few strategies that have worked for me. I would love to hear from you. Get in touch HERE and share your strategies with me.