Tips for Getting Your Kids to Talk About the Little Things (So They'll Talk About the Big Things)

It's that time of year again when the kids go back to school and they suddenly seem to clam up. What is that all about? We all want to know what our kids are up to and get them talking, but they come home mute and can't seem to remember what they did all day.

Parenting can be so hard sometimes, can't it? Getting our kids to open up and talk to us is hard work! I'm always looking for sneaky ways I can get my kids to tell me what's REALLY going on in their lives, because we all know that when they share the smaller parts of their days, they feel more comfortable coming to us with the BIG things they're dealing with.

I asked my Facebook friends for their best tips and tricks to get their kids to spill the beans and they came through like champs. Thank you for all of the awesome responses!! I want to share them with you, because it takes a village to raise our kids!


Remember that each kid is different and they all respond to different approaches, so pick and choose what works best for you and your child.

GO FOR A CAR RIDE

There is something about riding in the car that loosens lips. Maybe it's the fact that your kid doesn't have to look you in the eye or the motion of the car lulls them into a sense of security. Either way, car rides are one of the best places to get your kid to open up. Sometimes I keep driving around the block if we're not done talking yet.

ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

We all know that if we ask "How was school today?" we're going to get a grunt at best. Try "Who did you eat lunch with?" or "How many sit ups did you do in gym today?" or "What was your teacher wearing today?" Anything to get that precious conversation started! Yes or no questions are conversation killers and you should avoid them at all costs!

PROVIDE A SAFE PLACE TO TALK

Lots of readers mentioned that kids need to feel like they're in a space place. They can say ANYTHING without fear of parental freak out, punishment, judgment, or all of the above. Call it the Circle of Trust, the Cone of Silence, whatever, just make sure that what's said in the safe place stays in the safe place. It can be hard to keep your emotions in check, especially if your kid is dumping something heavy on you, but do your best to remain neutral and have a drama-free discussion. Even if you disagree, be respectful of their feelings when you tell them you disagree.

GET MOVING

Much like going for a car ride, moving seems to get them yakking. Go for a walk, decorate cookies, paint pictures, color some pictures, throw a ball back and forth, take a bike ride, go fishing, fold laundry, play Minecraft with them, just do something other than sitting across from one another staring holes into each other. 

BE PRESENT

This seems to go against the last bit of advice. Yes, kids want you preoccupied with a mundane task like mopping the floor, but they know that you even though you're swishing a mop around, you're engaged in what they're saying. However, if you're crushing candy or checking your email or paying bills or talking on the phone, they know that you're not present and you're not dialed in completely. If you can, don't delay a conversation they start. It's hard for them to open up to you and if you say "I'm busy" they don't feel like you're making them a priority and they might think twice before they come to you next time.

ENJOY THE SILENCE

This is an old sales trick I learned in real estate school. We feel the need to fill the silence with our mindless chatter, but when we do that, we're not listening. So be quiet and let the kids fill the silence. It might start out as mindless, but they'll quickly get to the good stuff. 

OPEN UP ABOUT YOUR PAST

It's hard for our kids to believe it, but we were all once their age. There have been times in our lives where we've either screwed up royally or done something terrific. Share those stories with your kids. Let them learn from your mistakes and your successes. Let them know that the technology might be different, but the pressures they feel are still the same.

GO ON A DATE WITH YOUR KID

Every now and again take one kid out for dinner or ice cream. Visit the bookstore together or get pedicures together. This is especially good if you have a large family and there aren't many opportunities for one-on-one time each day with your kids. If a sugar rush doesn't open them up to conversation, then what will?

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM

Our kids are online a lot and rather than complaining about that and forcing them off their devices so they can talk to you, go online and join them. Send them e-mails, instant messages, and text messages. Have a conversation online. Yes, it's hell on your thumbs, but you can do it! Oh, and learn your emojis so you can keep up with what's being said. I still can't figure out if the poop emoji means my kid is happy, sad, or constipated.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

Share the good and bad parts of your day. Ask your child to tell you the best part of their day (recess and lunch don't count) and the worst part of their day. Compliment the good and don't try and fix the bad, just listen. They probably don't need your help to work through it, but it's nice to have someone to talk to. Help them learn to advocate for themselves. Mommy and Daddy won't always be there to help them, so now is the time to teach them how to help themselves.

LET THEM DELAY BEDTIME

Tuck them in, read a book, and then listen to them open up. It's tempting to turn off the light and say goodnight, but don't do it. Think about it, when you need to feel safe where do you go? Your bed, right? Cuddle up and get ready for the long chat you've been trying to have all day with your kid.

ACCEPT THAT YOU MIGHT NOT BE THE ONE

I know, I know. This one is hard to hear. I'd like to think that I'm the one person my kids feel most comfortable with, but that might not be true. As my son gets older, I'm sure he'll prefer talking to his dad. Some kids might feel better sharing with grandma or an aunt or an older sibling. The important thing is that your kid is talking to a trusted adult who can report back to you if there's anything worth reporting. (I know some of you just lost your minds right there. I don't see that as betraying my kid's trust. This is my child and if something major is going on in their life I need to know about it, even if they're not willing to tell me. Sorry, but I'm not going to budge on that one.)  

START EARLY - #TALKEARLY

This one came from the parents of kids who are now grown and I think it's the best piece of advice I received. I've seen this in my own kids. We started tackling tough topics when they were younger, because it's never too early to start. And now that they're getting older, they're surprising me with how open they are. I was never so open with my parents! It can be a bit unnerving the first few times, but it's also comforting to think that maybe my kids will always be able to talk to me like this. The earlier you start, the easier it will be for all of you in the future. If they know that they can have your full attention to talk to you without fear of judgment or penalty when they're younger, then imagine how open they'll be when they're teenagers?

I know that I've missed a few, so be sure to share your best tips and tricks in the comments section.

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I was compensated to write this post, but as always, these are my own opinions. I always like writing these Responsibility posts, because we're all in the same boat and when I write these posts, it gets us all talking and I always learn something from you guys. 

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