I don't know…..

I’m often asked about how to get kids to talk. Parents, teachers and coaches often struggle with getting kids to open up. One of the most popular responses that kids often have when we initially ask them a question is, “I don’t know.” A common  impulse is to amp up our questioning, “helping” them come up with the answer. This rarely works. “I don’t know,” becomes confusion….”What, huh?” and ends up morphing into anxiety which shows up as a slight shake of the head or shrug of the shoulders with no accompanying response. If we really want to know what our children are thinking, feeling or experiencing, the best way is to give them ample opportunity to share, by sharing freely ourselves, and being positive about what we hear in response. A dad who shares a story from his day at the office and then waits, will often hear some snippet from the day like, “social studies is so stupid.” Acknowledging this, rather than dismissing or countering it works well.  “It is? Hmmmm,” is usually the perfect response. Often, more of the story will follow. If not, a cheerful nudge of, “Really? I’d sure like to hear more about that!” truly works wonders. In our fast paced lives we are often short on time….anxious to get to the “next.” Deeper communication and sharing can only happen when there is plenty of time and space to allow it to happen.

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