A simple strategy to improve communication with your kid
When you child is asking questions about sex and relationships, you have to carefully consider how to answer, but at least the conversation has started.
What about when your child isn’t asking questions?
There are lots of moments that get lost in the busyness of our day. You might notice something wonderful about your child, or a question you want to ask, or maybe you come across something you’d like to share with your child. Your child also has those lost moments, when they might want to ask about a slang term they heard, or show you a comic they didn’t understand, or thank you, or even apologize to you.
That busyness keeps us from reflecting and taking the time to find the words we’d really like to say to our kids. When those deeper thoughts and feelings aren’t expressed, our relationships with our kids can become rather shallow, more about getting stuff done than connecting when you have time together.
A simple strategy that my clients have had success with is to start a shared journal. This is a great strategy because:
- Shopping for the perfect journal is a fun outing, full of sweet anticipation.
- There’s a place to write down all those lost moments: the complement you thought of while they were at school; the funny story you wanted to share; the apology you meant to say; your hopes and dreams for them. Sitting down to write in the journal will give you the opportunity to reflect on what you really want to say.
- Your child may be able to ask something in writing that they couldn’t ask (or always forget to ask) out loud. Maybe they write back about how what you said really helped when they were in another situation. Or how they realize now that they didn’t behave very well and you’re actually not so bad a parent.
- Last but not least, you’re creating something precious that your child will treasure later in life.
So how do you get started?
- Invite your child to do this with you, and sell it. This won’t work without your child’s consent! Tell them that you think of them when you’re not with them and you want a place to write the sweet and funny things that you forget to say later.
- Brainstorm 10 things you’d like to write about. It could be the things you love most about your child, or your favorite memory with them, or what a family friend said at their performance.
- Carve out some time in your week. Some families like to have an official quiet time, when everyone can read or journal. Maybe your time will be after the kids go to bed. For this to work, you’ll have to prioritize it!
- Don’t get discouraged! Your child might not write back anything much at first, or maybe they start out strong and then taper off. This is a practice, and it will pay off in time. If you’re consistent about writing them a paragraph a week, they will pick up on what you’re modeling.
If there’s a gulf between where you are with your relationship with your child and where you want to be, there are powerful strategies like this one which can bridge the gap.
Give it a try and tell me how it goes!
In support of you,