How Can I Get My Child To Talk?

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5 Tips To Get Your Child Talking

BY DR EMMA BOLES
Kids learn about emotions and how to cope by watching those around them. They’re much more

Be open to listening, it will help your child talk

Be open to listening, it will help your child talk

likely to follow what you do than learn from what you say, so how you respond to your child’s emotions plays a significant role in the development of their coping skills.

Kids who feel listened to and understood will be more accepting of their feelings and feel more able to talk about and deal with their distress. Kids who talk about their feelings will also be more resilient.

So what can you do to get your child talking? Here are 5 tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Be Open To Discussing Negative Feelings

As a parent, how you deal with emotion will play a significant role in how your child learns to cope. Having open conversations with kids from a young age about a range of emotions (both positive and negative) with send them the message that it’s okay to experience these emotions and to talk about them.

Tip #2: Your Child’s Feelings Aren’t About You

If your child wants to talk to you about how sad or anxious they feel, try not to take this personally. No child can be happy all the time and if your child is stressed or sad this doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Try not to take your child’s feelings personally. If you react negatively when your child tries to talk to you about negative feelings, they may not feel comfortable opening up to you again. You will also inadvertently be sending your child the message that what they’re feeling is wrong and not ok to talk about and this might make them feel worse than they already do.

Tip #3: Start A Conversation

Let your child know that you’re willing to listen when they need to talk. Keep things informal – talk using their language and seize the moment to start a conversation, whether it be during a car trip or over a meal. There will be times when your child doesn’t want to talk and times when they do. Don’t be put off if your child doesn’t reciprocate your attempt to start a conversation, what’s important is that you’re sending the message that you’re here to listen if and when they need you.

Tip #4: Don’t Be Afraid To Agree With Your Child

There will be times when the situation your child is upset about really is awful and their reaction, while negative, is normal and understandable. Don’t be afraid to agree with your child and to tell them they have every right to feel the way they’re feeling. There’s a difference between validating your child’s distress and encouraging them to dwell in it and telling your child you understand will often be exactly what they need to hear to be able to let go of their negative feelings. If you’re too positive or try to talk your child out of how they’re feeling you may find it makes them more stuck and more determined to stay negative as a way of justifying their distress.

Tip #5: Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Help

There will be times when as a parent, you don’t have all the answers. You’re not supposed to. If your child is struggling with a particular issue and you don’t know how to help, encourage your child to seek help from others whether that be a trusted family friend, a teacher, or even a psychologist. Above all, send your child the message that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of. Discuss seeking help with your child in terms of learning or getting education about understanding their feelings and how to manage them more effectively.

Dr. Emma Boles is a Clinical Psychologist who enjoys working with children, young people, families, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem, perfectionism, and other life issues.


 

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