Do you find yourself unable to chat with your kids? Are your conversations merely brief exchanges about food, routines and activities? In a wired world, parents often find that it’s hard to compete with gadgets. Have gaming, phones and computers taken over your home? Is everyone in a different room for hours on end, using a wi-fi device?
Where did things go wrong? When your baby was born, you imagined that you’d share all kinds of special moments, and discuss everything they were experiencing. You’d impart words of wisdom, and chat about life. You’d be there to help them figure things out, and set them on the right path. But, somewhere along the line, technology won them over. Instead of chatting with you, they want to be online all of the time! Most kids think they can google everything anyway, so are you even relevant?
Make Conversations Count: How to Connect With Your Kids
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
– Robert Brault
Why do real life conversations even matter?
Conversations matter because our kids need us to connect with them. Even though they may not realize it, or acknowledge it, kids appreciate when we take the time to talk to them about fun, special, sensitive or important topics and involve them in decision-making.
As parents and guardians, our role is to build self-esteem, to motivate and teach our children. Kids who learn that every generation has different struggles are empowered to find solutions. Too many children feel isolated. They turn to their gadgets for entertainment and distraction. Some kids and teens get hooked on fantasy reality games. Many kids have difficulty talking with people in their lives. Friends? Online sure, but in real life… maybe not. Lots of kids may feel lonely, bored and unmotivated. Let’s change this. The key is to balance screen time with real people doing fun activities, and having meaningful conversations.
Kids are growing up in a world with lots of social pressures. Talk with them about what the issues were when you were a kid, and how you got through challenging times. Engage them with current events. Tell them what’s happening in the world, and how lucky they are to live the life they have. Inspire them to make a difference in their class, school and community.
How can we connect with our kids?
Start by setting some family rules. Yes, that awful word, rules. If there are no boundaries, then days fly by without any meaningful conversations. Over time, you don’t know what to say to your children, and they don’t know what to say to you. It’s never too late to connect with your kids.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu
How do you start?
Start today with this:
I’d like our family to be more connected. From now on, there will be a time for online stuff and times for us to chat. When we’re in the car/bus/train or walking together, it’s time to chat. When we’re having meals, it’s also time to chat. All of us, including me, can’t be on a device for more than _ hours without connecting as a family. Today is Day 1. We’re going to chat more and have more fun together!
Your kids will resist
At first it will feel awkward… what do you talk about? Why do you have to set rules? Why did you suddenly turn old-school?
Hang in there! Smile and stay positive. They will thank you one day. Your family will soon start to get closer. All of you will become more confident, thoughtful, worldly, and develop great conversation skills.
- When I was younger, ___ also happened to me. Guess what I did?
- Did you know that your grandpa/aunt/ also had ___?
- What made you laugh today?
- How did you help someone today?
- What happened today that surprised you?
- When I was ___, the craziest thing happened to me…
- I’ve always wanted to learn how to ___. Would you like to try it with me?
- What do you LOVE? Let’s look into a group/club in our area for ___.
- It’s never too early or too late to change. Guess what ___ did that would amaze you!
- You’re awesome! I love that you ___.
- Did you hear that __ happened in ___? Let’s chat about it.
- What does ___ remind you of?
- What did you learn today?
- I’d like you to know that ___.
- Back in ___, there were also ___, and I remember that ___.
- Would you like to learn how to ___? I’d love to teach you.
- You can get through this. Let’s stay positive. How can I help?
- I’m always here for you. Would you like to talk about it?
- Life’s a journey. All of us are figuring stuff out along the way. When I was ___, I experienced___.
Trust the process, it works!
Before long, you’ll be sharing special moments and stories. Your children will be learning from you, and you’ll be learning a lot from them – their dreams, hopes, fears and uncertainties. Your kids will know that they can talk with you about anything: the good, the bad and the ugly. They will learn that someone is always there for them. From Day 1 on, you’ll be transforming your family life. Most of all, you’ll be connecting and demonstrating how much you love each other. One conversation at a time.