My question is about parenting social skills. Our time with our son is too short and making conversation at breakfast, on the way to the bus stop, or at the end of the day is hard to get going. We don’t know what’s on his mind other than the games on his Xbox.
Trying to make a conversation with our son usually seems forced, but we’re determined to encourage civilized conversations.
What do you ask after “How was your day?”
–Mr. Mom, Los Angeles
Mr. Mom and moms of all kind everywhere, parenting social skills takes patience and keen listening. Aside from being authentically enthusiastic about your child’s interests, you want him to open up to you about any fears, anger or disappointment he may be experiencing.
Start off by talking about the positive, because children don’t like talking about their bad feelings.
At breakfast or on the way to the bus stop, ask, “What are you going to do that is awesome today?”
Then at supper, ask, “What was your favorite part of your day?” Or, “What did you do that was fun today?”
Once you get him talking about what interests him, detect and acknowledge any gripe, frustration, injustice,or disappointment he may be feeling.
- When possible let him know how you felt when you were in a similar situation. Tell him a story he can relate to, and assure him to understand that those feelings won’t last for long.
- Should his concern be a household problem that can be solved within the family, help him solve the problem.
- While you’re at, confide him some of your own mistakes, especially if you are someone who overreact. It should be clear to him that we all make mistakes and we backtrack to self-correct.
- Take care in how you criticize your child. If you feel you have to, start by praising him about what he’s done right in the situation before suggesting how he could have done better.
- Stir clear of talking badly about others as Little Pitchers Have Big Ears. When he hears you passing judgement or being critical of someone else, he may well grow to fear that you feel badly about him too.
- Make a ritual of spending ten minutes with him before he goes to bed to take his emotional pulse. Did he have a good day? What was the best thing that happened to him today? Once he’s told you what he is happy about, he may well reveal something that he is unhappy about.
At the end of the day, parenting is really about being a keen listener, so that you can tune into anything that may be bothering him and help him solve his problem by making suggestions.
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