Sometimes talking to your son can feel like a one-way conversation. Here are 10 ways to change that.
Ever asked your son a question and all you get is a monosyllable response? Let’s be honest, there are times we try too hard. We go the extra mile by attempting to engage him in a conversation even when the time is wrong or the situation is awkward. It may feel like you’re not getting anywhere but all is not lost. Here are ten simple tips to get your son talking.
1. Ask open-ended questions.
If you ask your son how was his day at school, the likely response will be “Fine” or “Good”. Unless something earth-shattering happened, you won’t get more from him. The real issue is that you’ve asked a closed-ended question. Closed-ended questions are also dead-end questions. There’s no way of building a flowing conversation because the responses just lead to more questions which may be annoying to your son. A better approach is to ask open-ended questions that elicit a more in-depth response. For example, instead of “How was your day?” ask “What are three funny things that happened at school today?” For one, you’ll help your son redirect his thoughts about the day and get him talking.
2. Know when to interject a personal story.
When your son gets talking, be patient and listen. This is not your time to interrupt and share a personal story to show how you can relate to him. Let him sort through his feelings and let him talk. This is not about you. If you feel that your story will be helpful, ask him if he’d like to hear the story instead of regaling him in your past glory days.
3. Timing is everything.
Choosing to start a conversation when your son is playing a video game, reading or watching tv is not a good idea. For one, he’ll find it intrusive. You also will not have his full attention. Choose a more appropriate time such as when you’re in the car together or eating a meal. You can also talk when you’re doing something fun together.
4. Don’t force a conversation.
Yes, you may be eager to hear your son’s thoughts about the latest news story but be mindful of how to start the conversation. If you’re watching the news together, you may use the time to ask him his opinion and allow him to share his thoughts. Conversations should be fluid, natural and easy going. You want to create a safe space for your son and he needs to believe that this is a conversation and not a lecture. Speaking of lectures…
5. A conversation is not a lecture or discussion.
Unfortunately, what often begins as a conversation ends up as a lecture for some parents. We use this time to berate when we should be listening without judgment. In order for us to strengthen our bond with our son, we have to establish ourselves as an active listener. If we interrupt our son when he’s talking to criticize his poor decision or interject our opinion, we lose our credibility and their trust.
6. Listen with the intent to understand.
You may applaud yourself for being a great listener but very few people have the ability to listen with the intent to understand. Most of us are half listening or listening with the intent to respond. Your goal as a parent is to listen more than you speak. This may be a difficult task because we believe we have so much to say and an impending need to say it. Listening helps you to uncover things about your son as reveals his life to you. Silence can be uncomfortable but if you learn to be still in moments of silence, you become a more attentive listener.
7. Don’t shame or ridicule your son.
If your son is sharing something with you and tells you something you don’t approve of, don’t use that moment to shame him for making a bad decision or being reckless. Asking a question such as “What is wrong with you?” is hurtful. It will break your bond of trust. Once you let him know it’s not safe, he’ll be hesitant to share with you in the future. A better approach is to ask him: “What have you learned from this situation?”
8. Let your son share his opinion.
We don’t realize how our personal views affect or influence our kids until they make a comment. Your son is entitled to his own opinion. If he does not agree with you or a particular subject, it doesn’t mean he’s wrong, he’s just looking at it from his perspective. Try seeing the world through your son’s eyes and you’ll begin to understand his views on religion, politics, race, gender relations and more. If he makes a disparaging remark, this is the time to address it. Find out what is influencing his thoughts and what he is feeling.
9. Don’t rush a response.
If your son is taking his time to respond, don’t rush him. He may be processing the information or thinking about a response. Be patient with him and let follow his cue.
10. Don’t make assumptions.
Silence can be overwhelming, especially when you’re waiting for a response. The best thing to do is wait as opposed to jumping to conclusions or making false accusations. When we rush to make assumptions, it indicates to our son that we don’t trust him. Even if we have the facts, it’s still best to give him a chance to speak. If you do catch him in a lie, be upfront and talk to him about why he felt the need to lie to you.
There will be times when he wants to talk to you, such as when you’re working, reading or watching tv, make the time. A moment of inconvenience beats a memory of regret. Keep in mind that there are teachable moments throughout the day, so look for opportunities to chat with him about important topics.
Originally appeared at Black Life Coaches.net
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