How can we help our child talk with us about their feelings?

- User Submitted

I'd be interested in knowing the child's age, children in general. I'm gonna have to do it at different phases, a young child isn't gonna understand feelings.
Uh, the older they get, they may be able to start to understand some of their feelings.
But a child, if you ask them what they're feeling, more often than not, you're going to get, uh, fine, or I don't want to talk about anything. And so if your child's showing symptoms of depression and anxiety, is that what that said?
Depression and anxiety?
Yes. Well, depressed, stressed, or upset.
Okay. Or upset.
So clearly there's something happening
in their life and we should, right?
We have to acknowledge there's something happening.
But as a parent, when you don't know what's going on, it really brings out a question, what's going on
inside of this child's mind?
What are they experiencing? And they may not be ready to talk about it, but as a parent, we begin
to ask a question, what's the nature
of my relationship with my child?
Can I get them to open up to me?
Or are they are not open to me?
How long has it been that they have not been open to me?
Has there been something in their life
or our lives that has made it so they don't trust me and opening up to me?
That's, so that's just a question I would want to ask as just a general starting point, right?
Is there anything that's happened between us that has hurt this relationship?
Second to that, and it's as critical,
is we only open up in a safe environment.
And, and that that is just fundamental
to all healthy human relationships.
We only connect when we feel safe in the presence of others.
Now, safety is not necessarily physical safety. It's emotional safety too.
I could shut you down pretty quickly by saying, boy, that was stupid of you to do.
If I said that you in to a child, they're,
how are they gonna interpret that?
They're gonna interpret that as, okay, I must be stupid.
Am I gonna open up with that parent?
No, I'm not gonna open up to that parent
because I don't trust that relationship.
Now, contrast that with a parent says,
it sounds like you're really struggling in school,
and it sounds like this math test was really hard for you.
Am I missing that or is that about right now?
Now notice the question. Am I missing something?
Now the child has a chance to open up.
So even in our questions, we want to create an environment
where they are able to share, not yes or no.
Am I missing something? No. Or, yeah, that is a hard class.
Well, tell me a little bit more about it.
Well, I, I studied and I'm just, I'm not very good at math.
Dad. Not very good at math, mom.
Well, what do you mean by you're not very good at it?
Is it hard to understand what the teacher's saying?
Well, no, I understand what the teacher's saying,
but he gives us so much to do
that I can't cover all the material,
and then I feel overwhelmed.
And then my friends, they understand it quickly
and I feel like there's just,
I'm just slower than everybody else.
Oh, man, me too.
When I was younger, man, my friends,
they got things really quickly and I was a slow learner.
Now I notice what we're doing.
We're forming a bond about a commonality, if
that's an accurate statement.
And so that's just a role play.
But, but again, we want to create an environment
where they can open up and they feel safe with us.
And, and that's just one of those things,
I think is just a foundation of starting this communication.
So we need to identify if there's something that's happened
between us, we need to create a safe environment,
and then we need to ask open-ended questions.
Those three core parts can really start
to accelerate this conversation.
And if they continue, not,
you might say something like this.
It seems like when we're communicating
or I'm trying to talk, it seems like we're not able
to get anywhere.
And maybe it's, I don't know if I'm approaching it wrong,
but I feel like something's happened in our relationship
and I miss interacting with you
and understanding what's going on in your life.

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Dr. Kevin Skinner