Open Communication

With school in full swing and a wave of activities surrounding your family, be careful to guard times of open communication with your children. Open communication isn’t always natural and as children grow older, their response to the generic, “How was your day?” is usually a simple, “Fine.” Teach your children from a young age to be open about what they see, hear, feel and experience by asking them direct questions. Instead of just asking, “How was your day,” be specific: What was the best thing that happened to you today? What was the worst thing that happened to you today?

Other questions might include: What makes you feel special? When are you the happiest? What makes you sad? Who do you like to talk with most at school? Is there anyone at school that you try to avoid? Why? When do you feel smartest? If you could change anything about school, what would it be? Do you ever get angry at school? Have you ever been bullied? What is your favorite thing about your teacher? What is your least favorite thing about…You get the idea.

Don’t bombard them with questions all at once. This isn’t an inquisition but each day look for ways to ask a variety of direct questions and tell them often that you want to know what is going on in their lives.

Remind them that they can talk with you about anything. Give specific examples: If they hear a word and they don’t know if it’s a bad word, they can come ask you. If they hear a conversation among friends but don’t understand what they’re talking about, come ask. If they have questions or are curious about other matters in life, come ask.

Then, finally, show them that you want to listen to them by giving them your full attention when they come to you. Turn the TV off or go on a walk together. Show them that their thoughts and feelings are important by giving them uninterrupted time to share.

In brief, guard open communication lines by:

-Asking specific questions

-Reminding them often that they can talk to you about anything

-Showing them you want to hear what they have to say by creating moments when you can listen without distraction.

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