Working with children is not always an easy task, as each child has their own personality and story. To best communicate with a new child in your life and help them grow individually and socially, here are some tips for creating progressive, successful conversations within your home.
In any given situation, getting to know a person can be a journey; there are ups, downs, standstills, and sometimes slow coasts. When it comes to fostering or adopting a child, this journey may present even more unexpected turns. A simple conversation may become a difficult task if they are unwilling to participate, instead of fighting it with silence, closed-ended responses, or simply walking away. Do not be discouraged by the blank looks you may receive when you ask, “how was school?” Continued engagement demonstrates care and patience, and an understanding that you will be there when they are ready to speak.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you may come across a child who chooses to cope with this new journey by filling every moment with a word or thought. Be attentive to this – pay just as much attention to their words and stories as you would if you had never heard them speak before.
Anger is a Response
There may also be times where you receive more than you bargained for in response to your questions. A child’s response can range from simply walking away to slamming doors or proclamations of “don’t talk to me” or “you don’t care!” As unfortunate or hurtful as these responses may be if they’re not harming anyone (including themselves), or breaking any house rules, these outbursts could lead to important conversations about their deeper feelings and thoughts. Continue to ask them questions every day, no matter the response. They do hear you and they will learn with time that you are here to support them when they are ready.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
If you have finally started to see some progress in communication and your child has broken out of their shy, defensive shell, they may be more willing to participate in casual conversation. Remember to actively listen to what the child is saying and to ask open-ended questions. Instead of asking, “was school fun today,” perhaps ask “what was your favorite part of school today and why?” When you encourage more conversation, you may be pleasantly surprised by the answers you receive.
Now We Just Sit Here in Silence
Don’t be afraid of silence. You may have grown used to the consistent conversation or constant noise in your home, but don’t let this take away from the fact that silence can also be a sound of success. Silence may indicate that the child is comfortable enough in the home to not feel pressured to fill dead air. Success can be found when everyone is comfortable sitting in the same room reading or watching TV together, simply enjoying one another’s company.
Conversation can look different to every personality type – and with a new personality moving into your home, it’s important to remain flexible and be prepared for it.