Important conversations to have with children

Your kid could be a preschooler or middle-school adolescent; a teenager or an adult, there needs to be time and topic for a conversation between you and the child. When the kids are younger, the conversations need to be more consistent and regular; the conversations gradually get spaced out, as the child crosses 18 and steps into adulthood. The need for these conversations, however, always remains and its significance can never be questioned.

+ What should you talk about?

The importance of parent-child conversations can never be undermined. The child should be comfortable opening up with his or her parents. As long as a meaningful dialogue between the parent and the child happens, your child’s language skills, especially vocabulary development, happens meaningfully. This, in turn, impacts the performance of the child in the school and college. Conversations between the parent and the child also improve the conversational skills of the child. Younger children get to know and learn conversational skills in a natural setting. As the child grows, such conversations lead to a discussion on relevant topics which means that the child understands the relevance of choosing appropriate topics, how to stay-put on the topic, how to steer it towards a meaningful conclusion, how to talk in a socially acceptable manner and so on.As the child grows, the parent-child conversation typically moves towards more open conversations, with the topics getting more and more mature with increasing age. At this juncture, the need to spend time with one another without having any distractions from a blue screen or social media gets very crucial. Remember that qualitative conversations between the child and the parent help foster a nurturing and healthy relationship not only between the child and the parent but also between the child and the extended family, neighbors, friends, and so on.While different age groups will have different focal points of discussion between the child and his parents, there are 5 Topics that Parents must talk about across all age groups.1. The Everyday Stuff

  • What does this mean exactly? In simple language, it means that parents should and must talk to their kids about the day. Whether it was a school or college day, or a holiday, or a picnic trip down to the woods or even a simple hour spent with a friend; conversations about the everyday stuff serves a dual purpose:

- It helps the parent be updated about trivial little things that have happened in your child’s day today; and - It gives a purpose for the child and the parent to connect every day.

  • However, trivial or serious, parents need to enquire and listen as the child narrates his day to you. In this sharing of experiences, there are deeper lessons of life embedded. The other distinct advantage of discussing the everyday stories is also about maintaining clarity and emotional quality in your relationship – this means that the parent-child relationship tends to remain unstrained and beautiful when you make an effort to converse about everyday small little things.

2. Aspirations, Dreams and Nightmares

  • It is so important to tell kids that they need to dream and aspire; that they need to follow their hearts’ calling; that they need to tell you about their aims and ambitions in life.
  • This is also the platform where they get to speak about their greatest fears, nightmares, worries, apprehensions, and other such negative thoughts or ideas.
  • The objective of this type of conversation is to understand the thought-process, the psyche of the child, and give him the confidence that no matter what – good or bad – you are always there to listen to him and show him direction.

3. Health and Fitness

  • One constant topic of conversation between child and parents on an ongoing basis should be about health-related issues. The primary objective is about ensuring that the child’s physical and mental health is never compromised.
  • In this context, parents need to be extra careful. Parents need to be focused on the physical health of the child – hence, what kind of food the child eats, his lifestyle, his fitness schedule as well as the importance of sleep, eating right, should be continuously informed to the child. In this context, you need to keep asking the child what he has eaten, what liquid he has consumed, did he go for his sports activities or not, etc.
  • Health is also related to mental well-being. Depression and anxiety are common issues affecting youngsters today. Being in regular conversation with your growing child helps avert any such dangerous situations in the best possible manner.
  • Health-related discussions between parent and child also should touch upon age-relevant topics like sexual interests and activities, drug abuse, alcohol consumption, and smoking. These are serious topics, and parents need to handle such issues with sensitivity and delicateness.

4. Secrets

  • Children can seemingly start to distance themselves from their parents, for no obvious reasons. Children are usually not very comfortable when they have to talk about their secrets with their parents.
  • To avoid such situations where the child is forced to keep things away or hide things from you, keep the dialogue open. While kids will still have some secrets which they will be comfortable in sharing with their peer group, rather than their parents; creating a positive ambience at home gives them the trust and security that is so vital for their growth.

5. Plans

  • It is never too early or too late to discuss the future with your kids. For small kids, the plan could be about a visit to the museum next week, while for a teen, it could be about choosing a career path. Conversations about the future help put things in perspective for the child.

+ How do you get them to open up?

One of the best ways to ensure that there is an ongoing conversations is to make it a daily ritual from a young age. The earlier you start, the habit grows stronger. Do not keep postponing the conversations and ensure that there are no diversions or distractions during the dialogue.Parents can pick a lot of hints from the mannerisms and the behaviour of the child. Never forget to keep monitoring the child so that you can look out for non-verbal cues and identify the need to speak to the child.

+ Conversation Starters and looking for Non-verbal Cues

Wait for small little openings and when you get one,, respond to these immediately. Don’t let the query of your child go unanswered. Your attention tells the little mind whether you are available whenever he needs you or not.In conversations with your kids, do not be judgmental. The more you do so, the further the child will run away whenever you wish to speak to him.Connect with the child every single day. Make that effort; even if it is a big effort on your part.Do not always be in a hurry to offer advice. Sometimes, most often, the child is looking at simply a level conversation rather than seeking a solution. Let your child use his grey matter to find a solution.A special weekend, a special outing, dinner out, playtime, movie time – inculcate the habit of special bonding time with your child. Toddlers or teens, all kids love to spend time with their parents when they know that the conversations are going to be fun and engaging.As kids grow older, parents get pushed off to low priorities in their list. Accept it as normal and natural, and give them space; let them take you for granted because they do so when they know you are there for them, whenever they are in need.

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