There will come the day when your beautiful little baby will look at you, make a tutting noise and roll their eyes. Deciding that your parents aren’t cool is a normal part of growing up and one that us parents dread happening. That is when communication can shut down and your children can retreat within themselves. As their bodies change, they are dealing with some massive emotions and may not know how to control them properly.
It can be hard communicating with children during this phase. But it is our job to help them navigate through this time just like we helped them navigate toilet training and sleeping through the night. We have put together our thoughts on what to do when your child stops communicating with you. Here they are…
The Lowdown On Communicating With Children Who Don’t Want To Communicate
In Your Child’s Mind
Normally when your kids are approaching double digits, their communication levels drop. As they become more involved with their friends, their communication is more with their peers than with their parents. It doesn’t help that they are starting to believe that their boring old parents don’t know anything about the things that matter. Clearly their friends are a greater source of information on the vital topics of life.
Obviously they are wrong. They have not yet realised the wisdom that us parents possess. And they probably won’t realise that deep and meaningful conversations with their parents actually provides insight until around the 18 to 20 mark.
What To Expect
The tales of who played with who in the playground, and what happened on the bus that morning will start to fade away. They will likely be replaced with a lot of grunts, sighs and one word answers when you ask them questions about their day.
Expect to be the one initiating the conversation most of the time. Remember that just because they don’t go out of their way to start conversations with you, doesn’t mean they don’t want to have them. As hard as it can be to deal with the lack of response, keep trying to speak with them. Even if it feels a bit like talking to a brick wall. Unlike a brick wall, in a few years time they will be the one starting the conversations again.
What Can You Do?
Here are some tips on communicating with children that will help to keep the words flowing…
Remind Them You Don’t Need To Know Everything, but you do need to know a bit about what is going on in their lives. Like who their friends are, where they are going, and what activities they are involved with at school etc.
Talk About Your Own Day in the hope that it will spark common ground for conversation. Don’t talk about the boring stuff, but funny things that happened, odd things you might have seen, or interesting things you might have come across.
Show Interest in their hobbies and what they are doing. By showing an interest in the things they love, your kids will see that you do care about their choices and passions. Plus it is a great conversation starter - ask questions about it and get them to show you how it all works.
Don’t Push Too Much. If they volunteer a few sentences about their day in an actual normal conversation, don’t keep pushing them for more. Take it for what it is and enjoy the conversation while it lasts.
Set Expectations that you are their parent and not their friend. There is an expectation that they need to communicate with you at least a little bit.
Remain Cool, Calm and Collected when you are speaking with them. Anger is not going to encourage them to come out of their shell. But even the most stubborn of kids will communicate a little bit if you can remain calm.
Remember that this is just one of those phases that your kids go through. While it can be incredibly frustrating, keep your cool. When communicating with children don’t be too pushy or they will clam up more. Don’t be angry, or they will push you away. Just ride out the storm and know there will be times that they crawl back into your arms like they did when they were only 4!