What do you do when you child starts a conversation with you …and then shuts it down?
I’m sure you’ve had that experience before: your child approaches you to tell you something. She starts the conversation, you respond, and then all of a sudden your child says “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” or simply shrugs her shoulders and walks off.
I know this is an incredibly frustrating experience for you. Your child is the most important thing in your world. You want to know what’s on her mind and how her day went.
You also know your child’s peer group is becoming more and more important to her and you’re concerned that if she isn’t getting guidance from you, she’s getting guidance from them.
So I know a question on your mind is “How can I keep my child talking to me?”
So here’s a phrase I want you to try and see if it helps keep the conversation going:
“Tell me more.”
The reason why “tell me more” is so effective is because it
- keeps the flow of the conversation going so you learn more about what’s on her mind
- shows your child you are listening
- communicates to your child you want to know more about her thoughts
- eliminates your need to feel like you have to advise or give feedback, which your child may not necessarily want to hear at this time
Why is my child so resistant to my feedback?
Children in their tween and teen years are hypersensitive to feedback. Your child often thinks “My mom won’t understand.” So even before heading into the conversation she’s on high alert for any words you might say that feel like criticism.
That’s not your fault, that’s just where your child is developmentally.
Here’s the bottom line:
“Tell me more” is an effective phrase to bypass the battles and shutdowns that are common at this time in your child’s life.
If you’ve used this phrase before, or you try using this phrase and you still have a shutting down, melting down, or blowing up child on your hands, seek help.
Something else could be going on and I want you to have the relationship you want with your child and ensure your child’s life is on a positive track.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.