Your kids are busy. You're busy. And though you'd like to talk with your child more, it seems he or she would rather chat with anyone but you. It's not easy cutting through all the rat-racing and IMing and text messaging and homeworking and get down to two people talking, yet communication is your best chance to catch serious problems before (or when) they start. Take advantage of these ten opportunities to strike up a conversation with your child, even if you have to sneak up to do it.
1. In the CarNothing like a captive audience to get a conversation going. Your child might also appreciate the ability to talk to you without actually having to look at you or make eye contact. Keep your eyes on the road, and your ears open.
2. In the MorningIf your child is a morning person, haul yourself out of bed in those early hours too and share some a.m. time together. You may find your child to be more open before all the daily hassles and attitude have been layered on.
3. Before BedTurning out the lights sometimes brings out thoughts and feelings that are too scary for daytime. Be available to sit with your child and talk a little after bedtime but before sleep. It's a good time to catch your child with his or her guard down.
4. On a Afternoon OutEvery now and then, plan a little outing with just you and your child. Maybe go to a food place she particularly likes and have a treat, or stop for a cup of coffee and a cookie at a bookstore or cafe. Be a couple of buddies, visiting and talking.
5. On a WalkGrab your child for a stroll around the block, or walk to a neighborhood errand instead of driving. Walking a pet also provides for a good opportunity for an informal pedeconference. Get fit and get informed at the same time.
6. While You're WaitingIn a doctor's waiting room, in line at a store, in traffic, wherever you're sitting with your child with time on your hands, take up the opportunity to talk a little. You may have to yank the iPod buds from those young ears, but give it a try.
7. On a BreakIf your child's working on a tough homework assignment, schedule a little break for a cold drink, a stretch, and a short conversation. Either a break from work will be an incentive for your child to talk, or having to talk will be incentive to get back to work.
8. While Reading
Do you read with your child as part of homework or a reading routine
? Take advantage of that time together to work in some good conversation. Ask your child if the events or the characters or the feelings you're reading about remind him or her of anything that's going on for real.
9. While Watching TVTV gives you a nice break sometimes, but watching it with your child can also be helpful if it gives you some prompts for conversation starters. As with books, ask if the reel-life action is true to his or her real-life, or if things are altogether different.
10. Anytime and All the TimeThe best way to get your child to talk to you is just to be open and available for talk all the time. Let your child know you enjoy his or her company and conversation, whether there's something important to discuss or you're just wondering about the weather. Hey, it wouldn't hurt to learn how to IM or text message, either.