One on One Time

One on One Time: Caitrin and Julie

Each day, talk to one of your kids. Really talk. Sit on the couch, make eye contact and listen to him or her tell you something important to him or her. You can’t make this happen. You can seize the moment when it comes. Many times we miss the moments. We overlook them. We are daydreaming when we should be listening.

Most of us probably do talk with our kids, but we may let days go by without really connecting. It takes remembering to do it. That’s all. It happens best when we are listening to them talk about something they really enjoy. Tune in when those moments occur. They are gold!

There are a few ways to draw out kids who aren’t used to talking to you in any depth.

  • Sit on the floor next to your child who is watching TV or playing on the Game Cube or X Box or whatever. Just sit and watch. You can ask to play too, but if you don’t want to interrupt, just sit beside and wait. Eventually after a few days, I promise he or she will talk and explain something to you. At that moment, really listen. Feed back what you hear (“So you are racing under the bar because…”). It doesn’t really matter if you like the game. It matters that you are interested in why he or she likes the game.
  • You can color a picture at the same time as your child. Xerox two pages—one for you and one for him or her. Sit at the table and color. Talking will come if you are both engaged in the same kind of task.
  • Cook together.
  • Go for a walk (take the dog along).
  • Eat ice cream cones on the back porch.
  • Drink tea together. See our Poetry Teatime website. 
  • Read a funny quote or joke to your child and ask what he or she thinks.
  • Let your child teach you a card game.

The purpose of reminding yourself to talk to your kids every day about what they love is that besides increasing affection between you, your children will also be practicing that skill called narration. They need to be able to have your undivided attention to sort through what they are explaining. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, as long as it is of interest to your child. As he or she speaks and has your undivided attention, he or she will be learning all those vital writing skills of adjusting to audience, arranging information in an organized and interesting way, and he/she will be responding to your level of interest.

We often interact with our kids over the business of life. But we sometimes forget that they just need to talk, and talk a lot so that they can grow as communicators.