The importance of taking time to talk

Smiling family
Kids' coach Naomi Richards shares her advice for keeping the lines of communication open with your children.

We all want the best for our children – we want them to grow up into well adjusted adults who feel valued and respected. Our children also crave to be heard, listened to and not judged.

Our children generally want to talk to us when they fancy but for us parents it is often a matter of, “I’m busy, tell me later”; “Go and do something else and we’ll discuss it at dinnertime”; or “Very nice darling”, dismissing what they are saying to us.

Some of the children I have seen don’t have parents that have the time to listen to them – some hardly see their parents, and I work with them on ways that the child can get the attention of their parent.

Finding time to talk

The best time to talk is during the day when you are both relaxed and not engrossed in making the dinner or juggling three jobs at once. Also find a time when you are not going to be interrupted by other children or anyone else. Find out what your child is doing and then make an appointment with them for when they have finished their activity so you have their attention 100 percent.

I often say to my oldest child, “When you have finished playing that game, could we please sit together so we can talk about your day?” If this is greeted by moans, which are fairly short-lived, I sell the benefits of our time together, boosting his self-esteem by telling him how wonderful he is and how proud I feel to be his mum. We sit and discuss ‘life’ and I help him with his thoughts.

From feedback from mums, they find the best time to do talk properly with their children is before school or before bed, both of which are times in the day when the ‘worry monster’ within the child rears its ugly head. The timing is crucial as it has to be when you feel your child is going to be responsive and a willing participant in your chat.

Successful talking

Take as long as your child needs and don’t rush them. Have your chat at the kitchen table or in your child bedroom. I find that a fifteen-minute chat can do the job but for a complex issue you would need to allow about half an hour.

Read more tips and advice from Naomi at www.thekidscoach.org.uk