It is the month of love and, for some of our kids, these occasions are their first taste of how to show the people we love how we feel. Our conversations with our children stay with them. Happy or sad, positive or negative, our words matter. When is the last time you felt truly heard by someone you love? How did that feel? As a parent, that’s a feeling we want to give to our children. Meaningful conversations with our children today lead to meaningful connections with our children in life. We don’t have it all together all the time, it’s not going to look perfect. However, every effort you take does matter.
How to start having meaningful conversations with your kids
For younger littles:
Start by being present. Put down the phone. Give your children moments with you where you are fully listening and observing with them. For very small children, everything in a day is cause for conversation – even before they have the words. Help them to learn by describing the world around them. Take a walk around the block and talk to them about the things you are seeing and the things happening around you. Pay attention to their babbles or early words back to you. Investigate the things they see and point to. Being engaged and present is the best way to make them feel heard.
For older littles:
As your children grow and understand more, you can start to have bigger conversations about their thoughts, fears, and opinions. Here are 10 conversation starters from Bounceback Parenting, A Field Guide to Connection, Not Perfection. These conversation starters are a great way to get to know each other while establishing a meaningful connection that lets your child feel heard and valued.
1. What's something that our family is really good at?
2. What are you looking forward to about ____________?
3. What was the [funniest, grossest, weirdest, happiest, saddest] thing you noticed today?
4. What would be the worst superpower to have? What would be the best superpower to have?
5. If you could be any character in a book, who would you choose? Why?
6. When during the day do you feel the best? What season of the year do you like best?
7. Tell a memory of one of your favorite birthdays (or other holidays).
8. If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be?
9. If you could, what part of today would you repeat? What part of today would you change?
10. What do you think your [grandpa, grandma, or other faraway relative] is doing right now?
Remember to lead by example, your little ones are always watching. How you stay present, listen and communicate with them now is how they will learn to stay present, listen and communicate as they get older. We are not perfect, but taking the effort every day is what makes the difference.