6 Ways to Become Someone Your Child Will Want to Confide In

How to set good communication habits early between you and your child

father and son talking, parent child communication
To be someone your child wants to confide in, practice good listening and talking skills. Blend Images - KidStock/Getty Images

When children are younger, mom and dad are the center of their world. As they grow, their social circle expands to include extended family, friends, and even teachers and coaches. And as they from strong bonds to a network of people, they naturally share news, thoughts, opinions, and concerns with people beyond their parents.

While that's a natural and healthy part of child development, it's also important for parents to maintain a strong bond with their child during the grade-school years.

Maintaining a good parent-child communication is especially important in these years because kids become less talkative and are less likely to confide in parents as they reach middle-school age and beyond.

Here are some ways you can be someone your child will want to talk to and confide in now and as he gets older.

  1. Really listen. This means that when your child is talking to you, you shouldn't half-listen and be distracted and checking messages on your phone (which studies have shown is a problem more kids are seeing in their parents) or reading a newspaper. Give your child the full attention he deserves--and show him how you want to be treated when you want to say something to him.
  2. Don't interrupt or talk over your child. Allow your child to finish her thoughts before jumping in. And while young children may need your help as they search for the words to explain what they're thinking or feeling, it's important for parents to try to give them extra time to sort out what they want to say.
  1. Try not to lecture or judge. One of things we parents are supposed to do is help our children see what might be a mistake or teach them to see what might not be good for them or even dangerous. While it may be tempting to give your child a lecture or tell him that he's absolutely wrong, the fact is that kids, like adults, are more likely to listen if they feel like their opinion is respected and they're not being criticized. Try to tell him what's good and bad about his choices, and explain why you think something else might be a better option.
  1. Do something together. Kids are more likely to share thoughts and feelings while they're engaged in another activity, like making crafts or kicking around a soccer ball, or just sharing a snack on the sofa. Get them into the habit of talking to you about their day and what's going on in their lives, and set the pattern for regular conversations about everything with your child.
  2. Share your own story or confide in her. Your child will be more likely to share things with you if she feels like you value her opinion and thoughts on what's going on in your life. Talk to her about a problem at work and how you're thinking about handling it, or about something that's going on with a friend of yours. Try to find examples and stories that will allow your child to give her thoughts so that she can feel like she's helpful to you and that her opinion matters.
  3. Let your child know that he can confide in a trusted relative or friend if he feels like he cannot talk to you. And last but not least, tell your child that you love him very much and always want to have open communication, but if there ever comes a time when he for any reason feels like he cannot talk to you about a certain problem or subject, he should pick a trusted relative or family friend that you both agree upon to talk to. This lets your child know that his welfare is the most important thing to you, and that as much as you want to be the one he comes to, you always want him to be able to go to someone with a problem or concern.

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