Tips to Talk to Your Kids in a Way They Might Just Open Up
Can we all agree on something? Sometimes you must have a conversation with your kids about topics that neither of you want to. When they were little, the questions they asked were easy and innocent: “Why is the sky blue?” “Why does the dog sniff his butt?” “Why can’t I eat a brownie for dinner?”. As they got older the questions got a little more heavy – “Where do babies come from?” is always a milestone question in every parents life but you knew that you only needed to answer as much as they wanted to hear. At some point, they were satisfied with the information you gave them and went back to whatever it was they were doing before.
If you’ve reached the tween and teen years, you know that as they get older the questions stop coming as often as they search out their friends to give them the intel they need. The tables are turning and now I find myself having to use the rare moments that we have together to ask gently probing questions so I can get a read on what’s happening in their lives. I’m pretty fortunate in that my girls talk to me still and while they don’t tell me everything based on what I can tell, they tell me a heck of a lot more than their friends are telling their parents.
Our kids today are facing the same things we did when we were growing up – but with some added pieces that we never had and most of us are really grateful for that. High school was bad enough without having a digital scrapbook of your every guffaw, breakup with your boyfriend or misunderstanding with your best friend. Adding this extra element to their lives takes their stress level up a notch or two and it’s up to us as their parents to help them navigate thru and learn how to handle the crap that life will always throw at them.
But that’s easier said than done when you’re dealing with mood swings, hormones and their fight for independence so what do you do? I wrote earlier this year on why you should be watching Degrassi: Next Class with your teens because it runs thru some of the very typical situations that teens go thru. Now I want to show you a few more shows from Netflix that deal with similar topics but maybe not quite as “heavy” for the younger teens and tweens.
Project Mc2 and understanding teamwork – I think teamwork can be hard for a lot of people, regardless of age but teaching middle schoolers that it’s important to do so can be tricky. They either want to go at it alone or they could even be the one “short-changing” their teammates. Watching this episode together can open the conversation between you on this topic. Ask them questions like “do you think they could have gotten that done faster and better had they put their differences aside?” or “How do you think it made the other girls feel when McKeyla thought she worked better by herself?”.
Fuller House and standing up to peer pressure – UGH! Peer pressure! One of the worst parts of middle and high school isn’t it? And if you have a child who may teeter on the side of passive, it seems they’re even more prone to be sucked into it. In this episode, Jackson gets busted (and ultimately grounded) for sneaking out of the house to go to a friend’s house. This is a great opportunity to role play (y’all know how I love role playing with my girls!!) with them and go thru different scenarios that could come up. “What if someone asked you to sneak out of the house? What do you think your answer would be?” “How would you handle it if they called you a baby or a sissy for being afraid of your parents?”and so on.
Girl Meets World and the HORROR! of unplugging – Remember me talking about the added stress of being connected and growing up? There’s a real acronym for that – FOMO and it means the fear of missing out. Our kids are on their devices so much because they are so afraid they’ll miss something – not too different from why the wouldn’t go to bed when they were 4, is it? One of the (many) downsides to this is when they’re not invited to a sleepover or other event that they can see very clearly in the palm of their hands that everyone else is at. By getting kids to put down their devices and have face to face conversations, it can open up a whole new relationship for them! Seeing an episode play it out for them can help them understand that it’s not so bad!
Netflix has a lot of shows that families can watch together – it’s been a huge push of theirs the past couple of years. Take some time, make some popcorn, grab a soda and pick a series that your kids like to watch and sit down with them – without YOUR device entertaining you. You may be amazed at how many opportunities you will find to talk about their lives and let’s not forget the biggest added bonus – time spent together!
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