How to communicate with children

Most people are relieved when the kids head off to school. I myself am scared out of my wits. Having protected him for these five years and sending him out into the world is worrisome.

And the toughest thing to accomplish right now is getting information out of my dear son at the end of his day so that I can keep a close eye on developing events and circumstances beyond my control.

Here are some tips that I’m using to deal with this; maybe they can help you if you are experiencing the same thing.

  1. If you’re asking your child “How was your day?” or “What did you do today?” you are probably getting the same answer as the rest of us. “Nothing much, just stuff.” These questions are confusing for these little minds, perhaps you could rephrase the question, “Did you have fun today?” – be less specific, give them room to think.
  2. Once you have a piece of information, casually ask your child to explain the activities to you. Ask them to demonstrate to you. Try to connect the other children’s names into the conversation and use them often.
  3. Once your child begins to piece his/her day’s activities together, gently ask, “And then what?”, “And how do you do that?”, “Can I try it with you?”
  4. Keep in mind that both of you need to wait for a time when you and your child can think clearly. Not when they first come home, not if they’re hungry or thirsty, and not when they are playing. Their little minds cannot do too many things at one time. Be sure that you give them your unconditional attention or they won’t feel it’s worth their time to tell you when you’re not paying attention. A good time is after snack time and after dinner.
  5. Focus on only a small piece of information at a time. Don’t expect a complete summary of the whole day. It will seem like pulling teeth, but even dentists are gentle!
  6. Don’t make it seem like a drill or 20 questions. Ask in a way that sounds like a story, not one-word answers. Get a hands-on demonstration. Encourage enthusiasm for what went on during their day; have enthusiasm for their activities and tell them how much fun it may have been.
  7. Ask your child questions like, “And then what?” or “What comes first?” Teach them to organize their thoughts by asking for the next step.
  8. Keep in mind that preschoolers aren’t secretive. They cannot summarize as we can; they aren’t capable of switching their thoughts away from their current activity. You have to work together; teach them the art of conversation, no matter how simple.

This is a new experience for most of us. And as my next child starts school this will be easier. By the time my baby starts I should know this by heart! (until they become teenagers and we’ll never get any answers)

But for now, we’re all learning new things, and I’d like to believe that this is a good thing. We can never learn enough. It is hard letting go, and it won’t be any easier with the other boys. I hope that in my unconditional love, attention, and enthusiasm in their daily activities they will grow to count on me for more than just “How was your day?”.

I hope that they will feel that they can confide in me about the good and the bad because on the outside it may look like I’ve let go….but deep inside I’ll never let go.

Good luck!

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