It’s that time, your child has grown into this tween or teenager overnight, or so it seems. Suddenly you are no longer the center of their world and they tend to talk to their peers more so than you for guidance and support. In my opinion, having a tween or teen that goes to a peer for all of their guidance and support is not the best scenario. After all, I am sure you remember what your peers probably would have given for advice and support, none of which is probably the best in the eyes of a parent.
I am here to share with you some tidbits of information that successfully worked for me, while I have yet to have a child who doesn’t come speak to me about everything going on their world, it’s only because I ensure to implement the following procedures to keep our bond strong no matter what age they reach. Fingers crossed that this works for you, too!
One the best ways to really encourage an open communication between your child and you is to have that dialogue from day one, sadly not all parents are proactive in this and when life happens, sometimes our children slip away from us a little bit. No fear, you can always pull your child back in and have them become a more open and talkative child who comes to you for guidance and support. Maybe you are in a newly form blended family, where a child just moved in with you from their other parents home or maybe you are fostering kids, or maybe just maybe, you never even thought about being proactive in encouraging a strong open communication in your household and now you are ready to gain that parental control of open communication back. Irregardless of what has you wanting to try anything to get that child to speak to you, this method will assist in building trust, communication and support between your older child and you.
Step 1 – Use a Notebook as a means of Communicating
It’s not always easy for grown adults to talk to someone face to face, so why should you think any differently of your older child? A notebook setup for you and your child to “talk” to each other through can really assist in building communication that eventually will lead to face to face communication. Grab a notebook and set it up as a private notebook for you and your child’s eyes only. This is a place where each night (or day) your older child can write down anything they want, anything that is on their mind. The notebook will be passed between you and your child each day; whether at end of day or beginning of day is up to you based on your family schedule/routine.
Step 2- Anything is Allowed to Be Written/Discussed in Notebook
I am sure at first your child will have difficulty in expressing what is going on in their mind, after all remember, you are utilizing this as a means to teach them how to express themselves so that eventually it will come second nature to them in a face to face scenario. While anything and everything is allowed to be written & discussed in this notebook; your ultimate goal as the parent is to guide this notebook communication to be a balance of happy thoughts, personal issues and personal feelings as well as the bad things going on in your child’s life. This notebook is not meant as a negative venting machine, it’s meant to be used as a tool to teach the child to communicate and balance their feelings about the world they live in.
Step 3 – Have Patience
It took years for your child to get to the point where they no longer confide in you, and it may take a couple years to gain that trust and communication back from your child. The best advice ever, as part of utilizing this notebook as a tool, is to remain patient yourself. Each day your child is to write in this, and each day you are to reply in the notebook. Keep your replies balanced and as optimistic as possible. With your written words, you can encourage your child to view whatever is going on with them in a different light. That is your most important mission as a parent using this notebook method to open communication between your child and you; teaching your child to be comfortable speaking to you about anything as well as teaching your child to have more of an open, optimistic mindset about life and things that they cannot change.
Step 4 – Spend 15 Minutes Each Night with your Older Child
You cannot simply use one tool to open dialogue between your child and you. There must be a combination of tools used; in combination with the notebook tool, ensure that each week night you are spending 15 minutes alone with your older child. This 15 minutes can be spent talking, playing a card game, laughing and talking about your days. The biggest key to this 15 minutes is that your child leads the time, it’s about them only and no one else. It’s about them having that one on one time with you because we all know we have to work, we may have younger children taking up all our attention and so forth; this 15 minutes each night with your older child shows them that they still matter. That no matter how busy and stressful life can be, that they are still an important part of your life. The 15 minutes really helps build self esteem, trust and communication.
Enjoy the teenager years!
Combining both the notebook and the 15 minutes each week night with your older child will really prove to be quite successful in getting “your child back”, sure they won’t ever be that little girl or boy again, but at least you can rest assured knowing that you did the hard work and had patience enough to trust that they will at least come to you when times are tough. I wish you much luck during the tween and teen years, and if you have any other methods that worked well for your tween/teen years, do feel free to share in the comment section below!
Happy parenting to you and yours.