Communicating with Your Child - It Doesn't Have to be Difficult

Communication doesn't have to be difficult with these tips

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Remember when your child was younger and told you everything about her day? Now that your child is a tween, communication is a bit trickier. Tweens are generally more likely to open up to their peers than to their parents. And if you ask the wrong question at the wrong time, your tween’s moodiness may step in and just shut you down.

But that doesn’t mean communication between parent and child ends when a child becomes a preteen.

You can still have meaningful discussions with your tween, you’ll just have to time them right, keep them short and avoid too much lecturing.

Below are tips on communicating with your tween. Remember them, because they’re also helpful with communicating with teens, and that time is just around the corner.

Pick Your Time

Communicating is all about timing. It’s hard to have a meaningful discussion with your tween when he’s upset or angry. Instead, focus on starting conversations during “down” times. For example, you might want to initiate a conversation while you’re driving your tween to soccer practice, while you’re having a family dinner together, or while you’re watching television. Bedtime can also be a good time to talk with your tween, when the day’s activities are over and everything is winding down.

Avoid tying to get a conversation going during the morning, when your child is trying to get ready for school, or when he’s hanging out with his friends.

The key to establishing a good back and forth conversation is to take the time to do it right. Make sure you or your child aren't rushing to go somewhere, or distracted by other activities.

Put it in Writing

Sometimes a good conversation can take place via email, or through a personalized letter. If you’re having trouble telling your child something important, or if you think it would be less embarrassing for him to read what you have to say, consider putting it in writing.

End by letting your tween know that you’re ready to talk in person when he is, and of course, that you love him very much.

Think About Fun Conversation Starters

Not every discussion has to be about something serious. You can have a great conversation by discussion everyday things. Try to get a conversation going by asking silly or fun questions, such as:

  • What was the funniest thing that happened at school today?
  • If you could have a pet dinosaur, what would you name it?
  • Where is your dream vacation destination?
  • Who's the funniest kid in your class?
  • Name 5 things you want to do over summer break.

Don’t Overreact

If your tween comes to you with information that’s scary, try not to overreact. Remember, it probably took a lot of courage for your child to confess something to you. Remain calm and helpful. Tell your child that you’re proud he came to you, and that he did the right thing by letting you know what’s going on. If needed, take a few hours or a few days to think about what your tween said. You want to be in the best state of mind to determine what action is appropriate and necessary.

Make Time

Your tween may try to start a conversation with you, but at a time that’s not so convenient (such as when you’re trying to make an important meeting at work).

Avoid blowing your child off, but let him know that you can’t wait to talk about everything and that you’ll be thinking about what he said until you do. It might not hurt to send a text or a voicemail confirming that you know your child wants to talk to you, and that you’re eager to speak with him, too.

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