I often have parents telling me that they find it very difficult to get their child to talk about their school day. Parents often confess that they get "good," or "fine," or the conversation killer: "I don't remember" when they ask their child about the day. Take comfort in the fact that they are not giving you the cold shoulder on purpose. But if you know why your child clams up and if you have some tactics to help them organize their thoughts, you'll be well on your way to getting the need-to-know scoop. Talking and listening to children does lots of important things. It improves your bond with them, and encourages them to listen to you. It helps them to form relationships and to build self-esteem.
A million things, great and small, have happened since your child arrived at school, so when you ask "What happened today?" they may be overwhelmed. Should he tell you about the Stars of the Week on assembly? What happened in Junior choir? How he scored 100% on the spelling test? "
By asking specific questions like, "Who did you play with at break?" or "Who did you sit next to at lunch?" you'll begin teaching your child how to scroll back in time and make stories out of his experiences, You'll also be giving him a better idea of the kind of things you're interested in knowing. If you want lively answers, ask fun questions: Best/Worst or Coolest/Most Uncool thing that happened is engaging, and it provides another way to help kids share the day's events.
Like so many other things, talking and listening can be done badly, just OK, or really well. And like any other skills, you get better with practice.
Good communication with children is about:
• encouraging them to talk to you – and listening so they can tell you how they feel
• being able to really listen and responding in a sensitive way to all kinds of things – not just nice things or good news, but also anger, embarrassment, sadness or fear
• focusing on body language and actions as well as words, and interpreting nonverbal forms of communication.
Top tips for talking and listening
• Set aside time for talking and listening to each other.
• Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. Talking about feeling angry is different from getting angry, though. Learning the difference is an important step for a child learning to communicate.
• Use language that your children will understand . Sometimes we forget that children don’t ‘get’ everything.
• Watch your child’s facial expression and body language. Listening isn’t just about hearing words, but also trying to understand what’s behind those words.
• To let your child know you’re listening, and make sure you’ve really understood, repeat back what your child has said and make lots of eye contact.
• Show your interest by saying such things as, ‘Tell me more about ...’, ‘Really!’ and ‘Go on ...’. Ask children what they feel about the things they’re telling you about.
• Avoid criticism and blame. If you’re angry about something your children done, try and explain why you want them not to do it again. Appeal to their sense of empathy.
• Work together to solve problems and conflicts.
• Be honest with each other.