It can be pretty tough to get children to open up.
To talk about how they're really feeling.
To talk about hard issues.
Especially when they're older.
And while it most definitely helps to start this process as early as possible, so that it becomes their norm, there are some tips to help all children feel more comfortable opening up.
HERE ARE SOME KEY TIPS:
Make it non judgmental.
Don't offer unsolicited advice unless your child specifically asks for it.
Having hard talks are easiest when you're both busy doing a simple task: baking, colouring, putting together a puzzle, building, playing, out walking.
It's much easier to open up to someone when you're not looking directly at them, so take the above tasks and ensure that you're side by side when you start. Eye contact can make it harder for anyone to open up (think of it like a confessional.)
Ensure you don't relay what they say to their other parent (if your ex is high conflict, controlling, domineering, abusive, narcissistic, they will punish your child for being open and honest with you and your child will quickly learn to keep secrets. To bottle up and they NEED at least one safe parent to be open, honest and candid with.)
Share your personal kid appropriate issues and feelings with them. You are literally modelling to them what it looks like to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is very hard for most people, children and adults alike. So by seeing you open up (keep it kid friendly) they can then learn how to open up to you.
Talk about feelings a lot. Make it a normal part of your day. We live in a society where talking about real emotions and feelings is taboo. Make it your baseline in your home. Before dinner. After dinner. While driving to activities. Before bed. Make it a routine.
There is so much you can do to help your children regulate, connect, unburden themselves, express how they feel.
And don't you want that?
For your children to always feel like they can tell you anything and everything without fear of being judged, ridiculed, revealed?
Please let me know which tips resonate with you and which tips work for you and your family. Or even, if you have others you'd like to suggest to me!