How to Get Kids Talking

My nine-year-old son is a reserved kid. In fact, getting anything out of him feels like pulling teeth. It’s slow and requires a LOT of work. This has always bothered me, as I want my kids to be able to talk to me about anything.

Do you have a child like this too? Is it hard to connect in the way you want to?

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to help him open up. Now, when I’m hoping to connect with him, I use one of these five key steps to make sure it happens.

1. Talk About the Right Things

First, I learned early on that if I talk about things he enjoys, he’s twice as likely to join into the conversation. That means we talk more about Minecraft than I’d like. (I know way too much about it) But at least my kid is sharing his interests with me, and I can handle that.

So, what does your child enjoy? Bring that topic up as much as possible. And see this fun list of topics to talk about for more specific ideas!

2. Ask VERY Specific Questions

“How was your day?” – It’s the world’s worst question. And we only ever get “fine” or “ok” out of it. So, it’s time to get specific!!! Here are WAY better questions to ask your child:

  • Who did you play with at recess today?
  • What did you eat for lunch? Which tasted the best?
  • Did you do anything difficult today?
  • What specials did you have?
  • What was your favorite subject today? Why?

The answers to these questions have to be detailed and leave your child no choice but to answer with a description. Usually, there’s also plenty of opportunity for follow-up questions after they answer too.

3. Include Food

It’s a weird one, but let’s face it – kids like you more when you have food. So, if their friend is over, put out a bowl of popcorn and listen to what the kids are saying. If it’s your child, be there for after school snack. In my home, my son is most likely to talk during this time when he’s unwinding from school and enjoying food. You may find that your child is the same. It’s certainly worth the experiment!

4. Utilize the In-Between Moments

Car rides to activities, lazy Sunday mornings, and walks after dinner are SUPER important to your family relationships! They don’t seem like the “busy” that our society is used to, but these are the times to take advantage of conversation with your kids. If you spend enough time together, your child will open up over time. Be patient, and be present – your child will notice!

5. Create Daily Rituals for Talking

Finally, daily events like family dinners are an essential piece to bonding with your children. (There is a ridiculous amount of science to back up how beneficial family dinners are!)

But you can add many other daily rituals too. After dinner walks, hanging out together before bed, and the morning rush can all incorporate an element of conversation. You must intentionally make them an occurrence that happens daily. But once this initial work is done, the connection happens effortlessly.

In Conclusion

My home is not perfect, and we aren’t always able to bond in the way that I want. But I have learned over time that it’s more about MAKING the time to connect than anything else. The more my kids know I’m truly present with them, the more I find out. Once they start talking, I bring on the questions. And before I know it, I’ve gotten a beautiful glimpse into their lives and they’ve shared important elements of it with me. That’s all I’m really asking for.

Which of these steps can you use today to get your child talking? Connecting when they are young is essential to building a relationship that lasts through their adulthood too.

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