Have you ever talked to your kid and wanted to help him through something he’s struggling with but you found it seemingly impossible? Maybe he just wouldn’t open up, or he had difficulty expressing feelings. As a parent and a pastor, I’ve counseled many kids over the years, and one of the great struggles is getting some kids to talk, especially when they don’t want to.
While you can’t force kids to share their thoughts or feelings, there are some practical practices that sometimes help them to open up. Whether kids are hurting, dealing with relational issues, facing the consequences of a huge mistake, or trying to deal with things completely out of their control, here are 3 strategies that’ll help them open up and share their feelings.
1. Show genuine concern.
This is huge because a child will rarely open up to someone until there is an understood level of trust and security. Listen to whatever it is your kids are willing to tell you, and show them you are truly interested in their situation or problem. The more willing you are to show patience and grace, the more likely your kids will be to open up to you. However, trying to make them talk or guilting them into talking will cause them to be less likely to open up and more likely to shut down. Children want you to understand what they’re feeling, but they easily will get frustrated if you force it—and they’ll seldom share their deepest feelings until they’re convinced you truly care. Here are a few examples of how this might sound in conversation:
- I’m really sorry about what you’re going through right now.
- I feel for you in this situation. Tell me how it makes you feel that this has happened to you.
- What you’re telling me makes complete sense. Tell me more.