31.10.2017 Family & Parenting

How To Get Your Kids To Confide In You

By Anne O' Connor
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LISTEN OCT 31, 2017
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If you are worried about something in your child’s life and are unsure how to broach the subject, the following suggestions may help:

  • Pick your moment : Ensure you are spending plenty of relaxed time with your child. During moments when children are relaxed and enjoying time with their parents, they are likely to start asking questions or make comments on what’s happening in their lives.

  • Be non-threatening : Children will not talk about difficult topics if their parents are getting angry, upset or distressed. For example, if your child is being bullied and they begin to tell you the details, one sure way of stopping them from talking is to get angry or upset. If there is one thing that children find threatening, it’s an upset adult.

  • Try to remain calm and open, which your child will find non-threatening and supportive.

  • Be non-judgmental: When children do have the courage to open up, one of the things they fear is that they will be blamed for whatever it is they are worried about. When a child has finished talking about their difficult experiences, the best approach is to praise them and reassure them that they are not at fault and it’s your job to try to make it better for them.

  • It may happen that your child has done something wrong and you need to take action. However, you won’t get to the bottom of it if you come in with all guns blazing your child is more likely to talk to you if they can trust you to listen and to judge fairly.

  • Listening is key: Listening means just that rather than waiting till your child is finished or indeed butting in before your child is finished talking with your point of view, you need to just let your child talk. If you have to talk, just reflect on what your child has said.

  • Don’t let your anxiety interfere: If your child is giving clear signals that they are upset, you will need to find out what the problem is. However, do allow time for this process in your anxiety to get to the bottom of it, you may not provide the best environment for talking.

  • Think about your child’s possible worries: Children often worry that even when they are not at fault, they will get in trouble when things are going wrong. If your child is being bullied, they may believe in the taunts that they are odd, gay, weird, etc and feel unable to talk about it.

  • If you have an idea or suspicion about what’s bothering them, think about why they are reluctant to tell (people laughing at them, getting into trouble, being further victimised, etc) and try to address these fears directly.

Things look very different from the child’s perspective: While we might see a six-year-old as just being boisterous, our child may see a huge threat. And where we might see a strong, fair school principal, a child may see someone powerful and frightening.

Children also see their problems differently. Allow them to talk, without interrupting, and listen without needing to get them to see it from your point of view. You can do your talking when you have allowed your child their space and hopefully you will have learnt how things are from their point of view.

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