Is this how your conversation with your child on Sunday goes? As a parent and Kids Pastor, I have been there many times. After extensive planning and spending on creating a fun day, sometimes all I receive in return is the one-word response, “thanks.”
Kids love to talk, and they love to tell stories. Kids want to talk to you, but they need our help. Try some of these tips for conversations with kids during your next car ride, a trip to the mall, or family dinner.
Step One: Be on the same level
Children are usually stuck looking up to see who is talking to them. Next time you have a conversation with a child, try getting on the same level as them. Let kids see your eyeballs, read your facial expressions, and see that you are engaged.
Step Two: Ask specific, open-ended questions
Children love to offer information, we just have to ask the right questions to get it out of them. Kids are constantly learning the art of storytelling, and by asking “leading” questions, you are simply helping them out. Try asking, “What was your favorite part of the Bible lesson?” or “Who was one person you enjoyed talking to today?” to get the conversation with your child going.
Step Three: Don’t investigate
There is a time and place for putting on the detective hat and quizzing your child on past events, but leave that for special occasions (or their teenage years). Children know when they are being cross-examined, so be genuinely curious about their lives, friends, and interests. Building trust with your child will allow them to speak freely.
Step Four: Be random
Children don’t care about your mortgage, your muscle aches, or how tired you are. They live in a world of exploration and excitement. Find the humor of recounting their day with them. Likewise, be ready for deep theological questions, strong emotions, and rapid changes. It is a beautiful and bizarre thing when a child can talk about a dead loved one and Legos in the same conversation.
Step Five: Be available
Put the phone down, stop working, and have a conversation with your kids. At our house, we have a set of chairs set up for a special time we call “talking about your day with Dad.” This spot in our home tells our children that this is a safe place to come and share freely.