4 Pro Tricks to Get Your Kids Talking

Yep. Uh-uh. Shrug. I guess.

Do these caveman responses from your kiddos sound familiar?

Tight-lipped tweens and teens are a common concern for parents, says Connie Wax, LCSW, a Los Alamitos-based counselor specializing in gifted and talented kids and their families.  “’Getting John to talk to us in more than a grunt is like pulling teeth!’ they’ll tell me. ‘What are we to do?’”.

You’re in luck! Here’s her professional advice:


“By the age of 12 your children have heard just about everything you want them to know. You’ve told them your belief systems and expectations, life stories you think will help, your amazement at how easy kids have it these days, and how fine motor skills are developed by playing catch or knitting, not by Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds on the iPhone. Insert your own conversations here (or lectures, as your kids might call them.)


However, when encouraging communication we must remember that conversation is a two-way street — I speak, you listen, then you speak and I listen. Here are a few tips to encourage your kids to talk:

1. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Phrase your questions so they require more than one word answers: “What are your plans for today?” versus “Are you going to have a good day?”
2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Make sure there is respect towards each other by modeling respect. Respect is learned, it is not given to you just because you are the parent.


3. Go, Team!
Your child should feel (i.e. understand) that you are on the same team. Imagine your child is running a race around a track, and you are in the stands. You only have a small time frame to cheer, as he/she runs in front of you.


4. A Safe Place
Your child must feel safe sharing with you. They should know that no matter what they say there will be no minimizing of feelings or thoughts, teasing, criticism, judgment, lectures or correction. (I am not talking about when a parent needs to address a discipline problem – just about creating an environment to have successful conversation.)


Bottom Line: To open up healthy communication, our job as parents is to create a respectful space where our children feel emotionally and physically safe to express themselves.”


Mother of three gifted children, now grown, Connie Wax, LCSW, provides consultation and therapy to assist gifted individuals in understanding and accepting themselves, finding their paths and developing the trust, persistence and discipline to be their best and accomplish their chosen goals. She holds a master’s degree in clinical social work and is a certified facilitator for SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted.) Learn more and contact her at www.counselorforthegiftedandtalented.com



This post was written by Liz Davis

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