3 Tips for Having Better Conversations with Your Child

3 Tips for Having Better Conversations with Your Child

Initiating a conversation with your child doesn’t have to be hard

3 minute read | December 18, 2020

Initiating a conversation with your child doesn’t have to be hard. Previously on the ICS Blog, we discussed how to identify and manage anxiety in the home using strategies such as naming and taming, modeling proper behavior, and talking to your children about their feelings. This time with the help of the ICS’ Student Services team, we dive deeper into how to best start a conversation with your child in times of calmness and distress. 

When talking to your child or teenager, remain calm and ready to listen. Put your phone or other technology away so there will be no distractions. Your child needs to know that they have your undivided attention. Try the following tips and phrases when initiating a dialogue with your child: 

Tip 1. Validate your child’s feelings and reassure them you are there for them

Validating your child’s feelings means that you acknowledge how they feel without judgment. It can help your child or teenager feel understood. You may use the following statements:

  • “I see that you are feeling ___________ (insert emotion word). This sounds/seems hard. Thank you for sharing with me how you are feeling.”
  • “I am here for you, and I will do everything I can to keep you safe. You can always come and talk to me about anything.”

Tip 2. Allow questions and listen calmly 

During the conversation, your child may have questions. Encourage them to ask what they are curious about and listen without interrupting. Try these responses:

  • “It sounds like you feel ______.”
  • “I understand why you’re scared, but maybe ___________ (offer possible explanation or solution)?”
  • “That’s interesting. Can you tell me more about that?”
  • “What do you mean by _________?”
  • “How long have you been feeling ________?”

Tip 3. Respond genuinely and truthfully - follow up with your own questions

It is okay not to have all the answers, so be truthful in how you respond. You may build on your child’s answers during the conversation and ask follow-up questions. Try answering with the following phrases:

  • “I don’t know the answer to that; I’m not sure anyone does. I do know, however, that many thoughtful and helpful people throughout the world are working hard to understand _________ and they’re figuring out how to help.”
  • “That’s an interesting question, and I don’t know the answer. How can we figure out the answer together?”
  • “How do you feel about what’s happening _______?”
  • “What are you or your friends thinking and talking about in terms of the situation?”
  • “Are you and your friends talking about what happened in ________? I’d be interested in hearing about what you think. Let me know if you would like to talk.” 

The statements and questions above serve as a guide in helping to start conversations with your child or teenager; you may wish to modify the templates as needed. 

Questions? Comments? Get in touch with us!

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