6 Tips for Talking to your Kids

by Mary Ann on June 8, 2012

boy with goggles picture

Austin, age 6

Austin and I have a GREAT relationship. He likes me and I like him. Austin is six.

Austin’s mom always comments on what great conversations we have. Part of the reason for that is that I work at keeping the conversation going. I want to talk with Austin and I want to know what he thinks and feels about what is going on in his life. I want to know Austin better.

That is what makes me a great conversationalist with kids of all ages. I want to know them. I want to know what they think. I want to know how they feel.

How to keep the conversation going with kids:

A conversation goes much farther with a child when we do not impart our own judgments or opinions. There is great value in focusing on a child’s feelings or reactions in any given situation rather than sharing what we think or feel. When we can listen without judgment it helps kid’s process their emotions.

Baby Shoes picture

Baby shoes are cute!

I have to laugh when I think of a conversation that a blogger I really like shared. She was riding in the car with her teen aged daughter and it went something like this:

“I don’t think I should have a baby now.”
“Is this a consideration?”
” I thought about it, but now I’ve realized something.”
“What’s that?”
“I only really want to buy lots of cute little baby shoes.”
“Oh, that’s very different from having a real baby.”
“Yeah that’s what I think too.”

Benefits of listening to kids without judgement:

When this mom listened calmly, without judgment or sharing her own opinion she found out what was really going on. It was all about cute baby shoes and not sex. She learned something about her daughter. The conversation lasted long enough to know what her daughter was really thinking.

Here is another example of listening without judgment or opinion.

kid swinging picture

No one like to be pushed off the swing

“Mom, I don’t like David.”
“Hmm, why not?”
“He is dumb.”
“What happened to make you think that?”
“He pushed me off the swing.”
“Oh really? How was that for you?”
“Not good! I really wanted to swing and it hurt my leg.”
“You didn’t get to swing.”
“No, and that wasn’t nice!”
“ You got hurt?”
“Yeah! I would never do that to someone!”


Here are some really good tips for having a conversation with a child or young person.

  • Ask open ended questions. “How did that work out? How do you feel about that? What do you think you can do? How was that for you?
  • Don’t offer your opinion.
  • Give fewer judgments.
  • Say fewer words.
  • Help kids find their own feelings about their experiences.
  • Rather than tell, ask.

These tips will help your child develop emotional awareness and a strong inner compass. This will help them in choosing their behavior even when no one is there to evaluate and give them feedback.

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