By Ida Welbourn
Creating moments for conversation is as much about you as an adult as it is about the child. If you as an adult are stressed, divided or tired, the child will notice it. Sometimes we need to be able to "part the sea" to make room for a moment of presence, which is the child's primary condition.
It is good to create context, perhaps routines for natural conversation spaces; at the dining table, on the edge of the bed or at other recurring moments when nothing else calls for attention.
"Talking to your child" should not mean a thing on the "to-do list" or putting pressure on yourself, but involving the child in your own chores. This becomes a natural entrance to common focus from which a conversation can develop. For example, when cooking, the child can be allowed to rinse vegetables or the like and then a conversation about, for example, the food at school, how carrots grow in the soil, what grandma used to cook or what questions or thoughts the child himself has in the meantime. Telling something about yourself to the child that makes the child feel involved in your life, finding common things you enjoy or have been involved in becomes a valuable exchange that strengthens the relationship.
Good opportunities for you and your child or teenager to both listen and tell:
Mealtimes: Can be a good time to talk because everyone is gathered and relaxed. You can ask your child about their day and share your own experiences.
Bedtime: When your child is relaxed, it can be a good time to talk about their day or something that worries them. It can also help them relax and feel safe.
Car journeys: When you are sitting in the car, there is an opportunity to talk casually. With teenagers, it can be good because you sit next to each other, which is usually perceived as less demanding than sitting opposite each other.
Activities: Doing something together, cleaning, cooking or playing games can give you both a chance to talk and have fun.
Tips for getting your child's or teen's attention:
Eye contact: When talking to your child, try to make eye contact. It shows that you are interested in what they have to say.
Listen actively: When your child is talking, try to listen actively by asking questions and repeating what they say, it shows that you are engaged.
Show interest: Show interest in what your child is saying by asking questions and giving comments, it shows that you are present.
Be patient: Give your child time to think and answer questions. Be patient and avoid interrupting them when they are speaking.
Avoid distractions: Try to avoid distractions like cell phones or TV when you talk. It is important that your child feels that they have your full attention.