Sometimes, children are unwilling to talk. While you should always respect your children’s boundaries, you still want to bond with them.
Trying to pull a shy child out of their shell is challenging, but you can show them empathy and model good conversational habits.
After all, you are their biggest role model, so demonstrate proper communication to show them that conversing with loved ones doesn’t have to be a scary thing.
1. Show Them That Conversation Is Important
If you value conversation, they will, too. When communicating with your kids, set down your phone and any other distractions.
Make sure your children know they have your full, undivided attention.
They’ll understand that you care about their words and what they have to say.
By setting your distractions down, you’re modeling good behavior for them in the future.
They’ll better understand how to hold meaningful conversations with the people they love as they grow up. By eliminating those distractions, they fully concentrate on what the other person says.
Once they learn to set down their distractions, they’ll know the meaning of a valuable conversation.
2. Ask Them Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions are more challenging to answer, keeping your kids’ brains thinking. It helps them learn to converse with others and answer and ask complex questions.
You might leave the abstract questions for your older kids, but younger kids could benefit from an open-ended answer that encourages them to have a broader range of communication.
Instead of, “Did you have a good day at school today?” ask them, “What did you do at school today?”
The former question can be answered with a simple yes or no statement, while the latter might provoke a torrent of conversation from your children as they tell you about all the fun, new experiences they had in the classroom.
3. Speak With Emotion
When you’re talking with your children, let your heart lead. You want to show them that you have emotions, too.
That way, they won’t feel so afraid of expressing their emotions. When children are taught that feelings are normal, they aren’t as frightened of saying how they feel.
The best way to teach them that it’s okay to feel sad or express happiness is by displaying these emotions yourself.
You can even have a conversation with your child.
If they ask you why you’re crying one day, you might respond that you’re happy you got to speak to an old friend or whatever the situation is that made you cry.
In learning that you have emotions, too, your child may be more likely to communicate theirs to you or their peers.
4. Work on Your Listening Skills
Many people have conversations with the intent to respond rather than listen. Listening is a fantastic skill, as it helps you retain information about your conversation partner.
When you’re talking to your children, listen to them with the intent to listen and retain information, not just wait for a chance to respond.
They’ll start to notice that you’re paying attention to their words, and they’ll learn to model that same behavior when talking to their peers.
5. Spend Time With Them
The more time you spend with your children, the more they’ll feel that you’re genuinely interested in them.
You can take them on errands with you or just set aside some time to spend with them doing something that they like.
The more time you spend with your children, the closer they’ll feel to you. Building bonds with your children is essential, so make efforts to do things they love with them.
6. Help Them Start a Hobby
You can’t converse with your kids all the time. Encourage them to pick up a productive hobby, like journaling, that will help them grow and learn to communicate with themselves to better communicate with others.
When they write about their days in a journal, they might start to understand their feelings better.
Explaining how they feel on paper could translate to verbal language, helping them become better conversationalists.
Alternatively, instead of using their journals to track what they did each day, older kids can keep track of their moods and habits.
They might be able to look back at their journal and analyze what they do when they feel a certain way. In turn, doing so may help them communicate with you better.
7. Talk About Their Interests
Like you have your favorites, kids have their preferred activities or media. When you show an interest in the things they like, they may get excited and want to talk your ear off.
If it’s a sport or other physical hobby, consider trying it with them.
Children love to get their parents’ attention and will just be happy that you’re interested in their lives.
Balance is key. If they’re busy watching a show, they may get frustrated if you try to interrupt them with questions. Pay attention to the episode with them.
Before they start the next one, ask them questions about it. They should be happy to answer you.
8. Set Limits on Devices During Family Time
Family time should be an oasis where you and your children bond.
You can spend the time talking to each other about your days and any obstacles you’ve come across and vanquished. This time is excellent for allowing your children to know you better.
As such, your children should not be on their electronic devices.
If your children are over five, it’s up to you to make a screen time limitation that fits both their and your lifestyles. Still, family time should be a device-off-limits time.
It’s the only way you can focus on each other without any distractions.
Many families spend their family time eating dinner, so you could easily enact a rule of no phones at the table.
9. Ask Them About Their Feelings
When your kids have the opportunity to talk about their feelings, they’ll try to put their emotions into words.
If you never ask, they may never tell you when they’re feeling upset — and then you’ll never get to the bottom of what made them feel the way they do.
Celebrate with them when they feel happy, and be there for them when they feel sad. No matter their age, they could use the support of their parents.
10. Remain Open and Available
Reassure your children that they can talk to you about anything and everything.
When you build that trust with your children, they won’t be afraid of approaching you with difficult topics as they get older.
When they’re teenagers, they might confide in you when they make a mistake or do something wrong.
Your job as a parent should be to be grateful for their open communication with you and to support them through any hard times they’re going through.
Show Them Communication Isn’t Scary
Teach your children that having conversations is fun.
They allow you to get to know your conversation partner and effectively explain your thoughts and feelings.
It’ll take time to develop conversation skills, so your children don’t need to worry about grasping the concept right away.
As long as you practice with them and model proper communication for them, they’ll exceed in the future.