Do you want your kids to open up to you more? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In a survey of 2,000 parents of school-going children conducted a couple of years ago, researchers found that “around 70 percent of parents say they “struggle to communicate meaningfully,” with their kids.”
That’s more than 2 out of every 3 parents who say their kids aren’t opening up to them!
Other statistics from the survey point to similar trends:
- 78% of the parents surveyed feel as if this results in them “being shut out of their child’s life.”
- 82% of parents actually feel like their kid avoids talking to them if they don’t have to.
These are alarming numbers for a variety of reasons.
First of all, communication is one of the primary relationship-building tools that we as humans have access to.
According to Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, licensed psychotherapist: “Communication is the lubricant in the gears of a relationship, which is a dynamic thing that is something bigger than the people involved.”
That’s an important point because communication allows relationships to grow and mature, which is critical in the case of a parent-child relationship.
Second, healthy communication can only happen when there is openness and honesty between the two sides. “If you’re able to respect each other and really hear what the other person is saying, then you’re on the right path,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics. The only way to expect a reciprocal response from your son or daughter is for you to open up to them. Unless you do this, they will tend to think that “keeping it bottled up” is the way adults do it, so why not me?
The third aspect of communication is the face-to-face aspect. We’re all aware of the deficiencies in other forms of communication. Face-to-face is crucial because it has an aspect of directness that you don’t otherwise experience, like eye contact and the ability to reinforce it with touch. The old “sit ‘em down and talk to ‘em” method is truly the only way to communicate effectively with your children.
Fortunately, there is a wonderful and fun way for both parent and child to create a meaningful, interesting and mindful communication channel, and it is as old as communication itself: the art of storytelling. The classic ritual of telling your kids stories offers the perfect channel for effective communication with your children and conveying important messages without imposing on them.
When reading to them, don’t just read them any storybook.
Read something to them that will encourage conversation and discussion between you – something open-ended where there’s no ‘resolution’ at the end; i.e., ‘they lived happily ever after.’ This is crucial because life’s loose ends are not always tied up in pretty bows. What you need is something to make your child – and you – think about the story and engage in a meaningful way, even if it’s just talking about their day. Believe us, it works wonders even if you do it a few nights a week.
StoryMoment: Let Your Child Open Up to You, Give Your Child a Voice!
[Many free stories when downloading the app]
“I was never a read-aloud dad. My son usually fell asleep in front of the TV or phone, but since we have started reading StoryMoment stories, it has become a habit for us to read before sleep and talk a bit about the story – or even just about how his day was.”