How to Talk to Your Kids: 3 Simple Steps to Success

It shouldn’t be that hard to do, should it? To talk to your kids? To carry on a conversation with a 5, 7, or 12-year-old? You’d think we wouldn’t have to give it too much attention to make it happen.

After all, we drive and talk all the time. You can multi-task when trying to talk to your kids can’t you? Well, sometimes. Maybe.

But we’re not likely not have much success, and certainly not much intentional growth. [ 5 Steps to More Intentional Living by Faith ] Maybe we should take some simple lessons from basic instructions we’ve all heard since — well, since we were kids.

More often than not when we try to talk to our kids, we talk at them. We nod in their general direction without actually having a conversation. Without ever hearing their heart. Big secret — if you don’t care about listening to your kids, they won’t care about listening to you. [ Tweet this! ]

Three Simple Steps to Ensure You Hear Your Kids

  • Stop. Just stop what you are doing and give your child your undivided attention. Try it. It’s harder than you might think. You’ll quickly find that you learned more about them in less time than it would have taken otherwise to get the same content. Stephen Covey was on to something when he said that with people, fast is slow and slow is fast. In other words, you can often go faster in the relationship by first coming to a complete halt. Let a salesperson try multi-tasking when you want them talking to you. See if you actually buy what they’re selling. If it wouldn’t work with you, why would it work with your own kids?
  • Look. Steven Covey also advised us parents to listen with our eyes and our heart. Most communication is non-verbal and most of that is visual. If you aren’t watching your children when you’re communicating, you’re missing most of what they have to say. Note especially the windows of the soul – their eyes. Use yours to see into theirs.
  • Listen. Seems simple enough. But all of us have nodded our way through our children’s words, often only barely acknowledging that they’re speaking in the first place. Not that we don’t have excuses for why we do it. We just need to stop it. We won’t appreciate it when they turn the trick on us as teenagers. Words have meaning – even when kids can’t figure out the right words or take a really long time selecting them. You know, like you used to.

Try these steps today. Stop. Look. Listen. Avoid the train wreck of a relationship headed your way. Or not. Just don’t say you didn’t hear the whistle blowing before it came hurtling around the bend.

What tips have you found helpful for truly hearing what your kids are saying to you? Share your experience with a comment here help us parent with greater faith.

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  • Doug

    I’ve heard this before and found it to be so true. The best time to have a deep conversation with kids is at their bedtime. It might be a ploy to stay awake longer, but take advantage of it. I get the most thought provoking questions. And both of us benefit from the undivided attention created by an atmosphere of low lights, no TV, no other children. There seems to be a calm that pervades our conversation that is not possible any other time of the day.

    • Jennifer

      My favourite time to talk with my son has always been on walks at night. My son has always been an active kid and my husband and I used to take it in turns to walk with him for an hour in the evenings. Sometimes we would just chat about the latest school happenings or his video game accomplishments, but at other times he would really open up about his thoughts and feelings. I learned so much about him on these walks. Now that he is sixteen he usually prefers to head out on his own on these nightly walkabouts and I treasure the times he invites me along.

    • Agreed. Of course, it is the time we likely most want them to just be quiet and go to sleep. Creating intentional time to listen to them….