Getting Kids To Call You Their Confidante

Kids are always in a rush to be independent. It seems one day they are crying at your feet while you’re trying to cook dinner, and then the next moment they don’t want your help as they fall off a bike ramp they just built.

Somewhere in between the day-to-day tasks, the years fly by and the intricacies of the mother/child dynamic can fall by the wayside.

But keeping an open forum of discussion with your child is a priceless relationship tool.

Having your child confide in you not only waters the love you’ve planted but gives your child an outlet to bring things up before they have an opportunity to go south.

The good news is whether you have a defiant teenager, an energetic toddler, or an introverted child, it is not too late to utilize effective methods of strengthening communication in order to show them you are able, ready and equipped to be their confidante.

Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D. writes for Today and discusses many helpful tips for being the one your child turns to when an emotion arises.

Peters writes:

“Make the questions easy to answer, interesting, and non-threatening.”

“Habits begun at a young age are generally easy to form and tend to have staying power.”

Conversations with your child should be age-appropriate and interesting to them. For toddlers and young children, try not to get too deep or it will make them feel insecure since they won’t understand.

“Non-threatening” questions are ones that don’t require your child or teenager to become defensive. Don’t start a conversation with “You hit Bobby, and that was wrong!”, or “I saw you got an F in math, are you not studying enough?”

Fitting yet another good habit into a crammed mommy schedule seems unbearable I’m sure, but it’s easier than you think.

Start with asking how school went when your child returns home as you are prepping a snack, or make family dinner the time when you find out what their latest interests are.

At an even younger age, you can ask toddlers about their favorite color or animal. Letting your toddler know you are interested in what they think and that you care enough to listen sets the stage for you being the one your child knows they can turn to when they need to be heard.

Peters provides a good tool for parents who don’t always let their child speak out before being judged:

“Gather the facts before jumping to conclusions. By listening first, you’re telling your child that you are on the same team and that you’re there for him, although you may not always agree with his thoughts or actions.”

It’s tough to bite your tongue when the emotions of both parties are running wild. But we will see drastic improvements in communication, especially with teenagers, if we allow our child’s voice to be heard before we jump straight into “the speech”.

Peters continues:

“To encourage your kid to use you as a sounding board or a confidant, it’s helpful to have some shared time together.

It’s difficult to take the time in the middle of your own thoughts or work in order to listen to your kids, but if you don’t take advantage of the moment, you may not have it again.”

Take all the moments you can to invest in your children. The phone call can wait, dinner can be a few minutes late, and all the while, the world still turns.

Keep eye contact if sitting with your child, or maintain it on and off while multi-tasking, such as fixing them a snack. Let them know they are the most important thing in the room with your body language.

Try to resist the urge to fix everything the second you sense trouble. Kids must learn to problem solve and they will be more apt to come to you if they know they can vent when needed.

Peters, who has had extensive experience as a clinical psychologist with getting kids to confide in her, concludes:

“Most of us have a tendency to want to jump in and fix things so that our children are not uncomfortable, in emotional pain, or worried. When we rush to the rescue the message sent is “You can’t figure this out, so let me do it.””

Mothers want their kids to rely on them as they’re growing up. Create a safe space for them to do that by giving unconditional love, free of judgment, and they will.