Want to Get Your Kids to Open Up To You? Try These 3 Tips 🗣

by | October 13, 2017 | 0 comments

Want to Get Your Kids to Open Up To You? Try These 3 Tips 🗣

by | October 13, 2017 | 0 comments

We all want relationships with our kids where they trust us, feel comfortable telling us things & come to us for support, advice & help. 

Getting there is easier said than done though. 

Starting at an early age, when our kids are toddlers, we often create patterns of communication.

When they tell us their feelings or desires, or share with us what happened in the sand box, we often react with: 

  • judgement (“You shouldn’t have done that”)
  • denial (“You’re fine, it’s not a big deal”)
  • lecturing (“I’ve told you 50 times to wear your shoes when you scooter”)
  • fixing (“I’ll tell how what you need to do to make it better”)
  • disappointment (“Why would you do that? I’m so disappointed in you.”)

As parents, we mistakenly think we constantly need to solve problems, teach life lessons, keep everyone safe, and maintain our pecking order of “the boss!”…but sometimes we just need to listen, connect & BE with our kids. 

Building connection & trust with them should be at the base of our relationship & is of utmost importance in our daily parenting “to do list”. 

In this week’s video tutorial, I cover 3 Tips to Get Your Kids To Open Up To You.

I talk all about: 

  • How important listening is & how to do it in a way that will get your kids to keep talking (vs. shutting down) 
  • The power of empathy and how you can increase your ability to build connection & trust by using empathy statements often
  • How to foster truth in your children (and get them to stop lying!) 

You can watch or listen to it here, or continue below if you prefer to learn via reading. 

Be sure to grab the free download cheat sheet that includes a full list of Feeling Encouragers that will help you tremendously refine your listening skills! 


#1 LISTENING 

Have you ever had an experience with a friend or family member who never lets you talk? Someone who is always so engaged with their own agenda & challenges, that they forget to ask about you?

Or maybe a pal who always tries to fix your problem when you just really want her to listen to you & be there….to say “That sucks friend, I’m sorry you’re going through that. What can I do to support you?”  

Yeah, me too. And of course I’m sure I’ve been that person too. Infact I know I have! I often get so caught up in trying to help people, that I have to stop and remind myself, “Maybe they just need to vent” or “Tt’s ok just to listen, I don’t have to overburden myself with solving their problem for them.” 

Our kids have similar feelings when it comes to wanting to be heard, understood & valued.  Dr. Rudolph Dreikers reminds us that these needs are completely healthy & when the needs are met in a healthy way, misbehavior decreases significantly. 

When our children come to us with a problem or admit to a mistake, or express frustration about a situation, we have an opportunity to LISTEN INTENTLY. 

The steps are quite simple, yet often difficult to implement. For many of us, just listening is SO HARD! 

As they share with you, try to implement Feeling Encouragers that cause them to keep talking vs. Feeling Discouragers with cause them to shut down. 

Here are a few of my favorite Feeling Encouragers (you can download the full list here for even more ideas).  

  • Stay Present – remove your iPhone or turn off the oven burner, the spaghetti can wait
  • Affirm Feelings – communicate that you can understand how they must have felt in that situation
  • Stay Curious – ask questions and express true care

#2 EMPATHY 

Never underestimate the power of empathy! 

When kids feel like you’re trying to understand their viewpoint, they trust you more & naturally feel more comfortable opening up to you. 

Remember that empathy is different than sympathy. 

Sympathy includes an element of sadness (I’m so sorry to hear your dog passed away) where as Empathy simply means putting yourself in another person’s shoes. 

The next time your son or daughter tells you something, literally imagine yourself trying to fit into their adorable little shoes. Then say out loud what your viewpoint would be if you were in their world. 

Examples of empathy statements include: 

  • “No wonder you’re so mad. I would be upset too if my brother took my toy!”
  • “I can see why you would be sad, you loved that toy & now the eyes are gone because the puppy chewed it!”
  • “I get why you’re scared, it’s a new environment with a lot of people you don’t know yet”
  • “No wonder you got upset about that”
  • “How did you feel when that happened? I would have felt hurt”
  • “I can see why you want to play longer on the block, your friends are so fun”

#3 FOSTERING TRUTH 

When kids lie, it can be for a number of different reasons, but many times it’s because there’s an element of fear present. Fear of being yelled at, lectured, punished, and embarrassed or simply a fear of disappointing Mom and Dad.

Getting rid of that fear, eliminates one layer and helps our kids get closer to honesty. 

How do we do this? Stop reaming them when they tell the truth! 

Take a break from lecturing, punishing, moralizing and fixing things and start thanking them for telling the truth. Follow it up with a calming break, where you walk to the side, take a deep breath & take a moment to plan how you’ll respond.

Of course you will come back to provide a great lesson for your kiddo (in the end, all mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn!) just be sure to do it in a later moment where everyone’s emotions are at room temperature. Don’t worry, your kids won’t forget about the mistake and I promise you, they’ll digest the lesson much better once they’ve had some time to settle their feelings. 

And….you’ll have truly solidified trust because you didn’t freak out on them when they chose honesty over lying! Hooraay! 


Try those out families & let me know how it goes! Always, always rooting for you! 

~Wendy Snyder 

Learn more about how Positive Parenting Curriculum can transform your life through these Fresh Start Family programs

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