|Art by Lim's son|
By Seow Lim
Did you ever feel that you ran out of words when it comes to make your children interested to get engaged on a conversation with you? Most parents know exactly how that feels. These tips are from my own personal experience, used with my own children in conversations that they enjoy, so that they have allowed me to log into their universes with lots of fun together.
For most of us the everyday routine doesn't make parenting easy: You rush them off to school. You get your coffee, kick start your computer and chaos reigns. Your paperwork is behind deadline, you have a meeting right before lunch and there is absolutely no time to catch up with your huge stack of filings. Before long, everything is piling up and you return home dreading the amount of work you need to catch up on the next day. The first thing that crosses your mind when you see your kids, you mind turn blank, you smile, you kids smile back, you are thinking in your mind "what should I say? "Nothing creative comes up and you say "How's your day?" And they turn their face to their book, TV or Tablet, and say "OK".
Besides the working adult, kids are running their own lives too. Events are happening to them at school, during extra-curricular activities and even when spending time with their friends. They feel, they think, they want to share with you. But they are kids, it is harder for them to volunteer their deeper thoughts and feelings to you. So how do you get them to open up?
Stop asking the same question every day. Many parents are probably used to asking ‘How is your day?’ to your kids most of the time. After a while, you might sound like a broken record with nothing new to express. This sends the message that your kids are second fiddle to whatever else is going on in your life. You can ask them questions about their everyday lives such as ‘Did your lunch taste good today?’ ‘Was Maths class difficult?’ ‘Your friend, Bobby looks happy today, did something good happen to him?’Get them involved with your lives as well through simple questions such as ‘Daddy looks really tired, what do you think is the best way to cheer him up when he comes home?’Find thought provoking questions to ask. Questions that make your kids think will help them realize that there is more to the world than they perceive and that they have a part in making decisions or generating ideas.
Questions like "Who do you think is the most important person in the world?" " If you could give a piece of advice to everyone around you, what would you give?" "Has anyone made you feel silly before?"
When speaking with your kids, always give them your full attention. Give them your eye contact. Don't keep looking down at your smartphones or TV. This will send a message to your kids that when it comes to them, nothing else can fight for your attention and that is how important they will feel. Yes, with social media, we can find out some much that's happening with our friends that are all around the world, the pictures they post, where they are traveling with their kids, the food they like to eat etc. But our kids are here just beside us. With the time they are with us, and wanting our attention, we should make it the highest priority to do so, not looking down at our smartphones Timing and environment is key.
When planning to have quality interaction with your kids, always choose a relaxing situation such as car ride, dinner time or bed time. In an environment with less tension will help encourage your kids (as well as you) to open up. And hopefully keep your smartphones away or on mute during those times. It is common to see in restaurants a family of 4 having dinner together, while each and everyone is having their heads down on their smartphones or tablets.
Involve the whole family. To get your kids fully involved in communicating effectively at home, it is important to rope in all family members to practice the habit. Surrounded by an atmosphere that encourages open communication, your kids will learn to express themselves comfortably and this will probably give them a lot of help when communicating with people outside of the family. When they are having playdates with their friends, it would be great to also host a short circle time with the rest of their friends, and have them ask each other thought provoking questions and sharing their thoughts and feelings.
Looking for your daily inspirations to start thought-provoking communications with your children?
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