6 Ways to Get Your Non-Talker to Open Up About Bullying

How to get reluctant talkers to open up

mom trying to talk to son

Some kids just aren't particularly talkative. And for the most part, that is fine; unless, of course, you are dealing with a bullying issue at school. Then, you want to be sure your child is having a conversation with you. If he’s not, then it will be very hard to help him through the situation. Here are six tips on how to get your reluctant talker to open up.

Take advantage of conversation openers.

If your child makes an effort to talk to you, by all means stop what you are doing and focus on his question or his comment. When you do this, it is an indication that he can talk to you when he needs to. While it may be hard to drop what you are doing with all the demands of work and life, but you do not want your kids to get the message that other things are more important than they are. If they believe that, they will look elsewhere when they have questions.

Look for low-key opportunities for information. Kids often open up more in the car, on a walk or in the dark at night before bed. Part of this is due to the fact that eye contact is limited. So do not forget that these are often the best times to get kids talking. Another opportunity is when other kids are at your house or in your car. Just close your mouth and listen. Your child and his friends know you are there, but find it easier to talk about things when you are not asking questions or fishing for information.

Build alone time into your daily routine. Whether you take your child to lunch once a month, play a card game together once a week, drive your child to school every morning or even just sit at the foot of his bed every night at bedtime, kids often wait for these routine times to bring up issues that are bothering them.

Also be sure you are available and connect with him every day. Of course being home after school helps but if this is not possible, then carve out some time each day that the two of you can connect.

Ask open-ended questions that require more than a “yes,” a “no,” or a “fine.” For instance, instead of asking questions like: “How was school today?” try asking “What was the best thing about school today.” Also, keep in mind that starting a question with “Why” makes a child naturally defensive.  So rephrase your question leaving out the “why.”

Avoid giving advice or offering solutions. Remember to give your child space to vent about what is bothering him. Also allow him some space to solve his own problems. This will allow him to build confidence. It also will communicate that you believe in his competence to handle the situation on his own. Trying to take over or control a situation makes him feel incompetent. Instead, brainstorm ideas with him. Your child will find you more approachable if you are not always trying to fix things or dictate how he should handle things.

Be quiet and listen. Of course, this is the most important part of getting kids to open up. If you are doing all the talking, there is no space for your child to talk.

So be sure you are listening more and talking less. If you need to ask questions, do so. But make sure it is nothing more than clarification so that you understand what is being said. And by all means, make sure you avoid interrogating your child.  

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