When you take the time to talk with your children and really listen, you build closeness and deepen your relationship. Make sure that you take time each day for family conversation so that this becomes part of your daily life. Don't forget to turn off the television, cell phones, pagers, video games and other electronic devices when you are sharing family time.
Instead of asking your kids general questions like, "How was your day?" try getting specific, and you might actually get them to say more than, "Fine." Ask colorful questions like:
- What was the (funniest, weirdest, most exciting, etc.) thing that happened to you today?
- Describe your perfect day from beginning to end.
- If you were going to write a book about your day today, what would you call it?
- If you could invent something to make your life easier, what would it be?
Make it funny
Ask silly questions to get your kids laughing:
- Do you think your teacher would make a good lion tamer?
- If all of our family members were animals, which ones would we be?
- Would you rather do: Sing a song on TV, swim with alligators, get a nose ring or go bungee jumping?
- Do you think (mom, dad, aunt, grandma, etc.) would look good with purple hair?
Don't be afraid to ask your children serious questions to get them to share their innermost feelings:
- If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
- Have you ever done anything of which you were ashamed?
- What is the one quality of which you are most proud?
- What would you rather be when you grow up: a famous movie star, a doctor, an artist, a teacher or a firefighter? Why?
Nothing's more fun than talking about exciting but improbable situations. Ask visionary questions and dream together:
- Do you think winning the lottery would change the person you are?
- If you could be a movie character, who would you choose and why?
- What famous person would you like to meet?
- If you could go back in time or into the future, which would you prefer?
Tell a story
Get your family involved in telling a story together. Give everyone a turn to add a sentence and listen to the funny story that develops. Start with a prompt like:
- Once upon a time, I was walking along and I saw a…
- When I went to school today, I discovered that my teacher had turned into a…
- I was frightened when I looked in my lunchbox and found...
- I never knew that my dad was really an alien until the day he…
Share your feelings
Ask open-ended questions designed to help your family members talk about their feelings:
- Is there anything about me that you wish you could change?
- Have you ever felt bullied?
- What do you think happens after we leave this world?
- What is your (happiest, saddest, funniest, most special) memory?
Children and adults alike enjoy talking about their own experiences and learning about the experiences of others. Try some conversation starters that encourage family members to share and compare their memories:
- What do you remember about your first teacher?
- Have you ever been hurt by someone you love?
- Who was/is your first best friend?
- What is your favoite family memory?
||Try to choose times to converse with your kids when they aren't exhausted from a long day at school or rushing out the door to extracurricular activities. Build some family bonding time into your day when your kids are feeling refreshed and more likely to open up to you.
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