As a paediatric speech pathologist and a mum of two boys ( aged 10 and 12 ), I am always thinking about communication and ways to keep conversations going . Right now , we might be seeing more of our immediate family , especially if we live in Melbourne , than ever before . But are we communicating well with them ? I wanted to share some ways that I find effective to help get conversations going with our nearest and dearest .
Grab some one-on-one time
My kids can be completely different personalities when given some individual attention .
} Walk and talk : take a walk with someone to take the pressure off a sit down face-to-face conversation and remove any digital distractions . I have made many important life decisions whilst on walks with my husband . } Digital detox : pop away the screens for a bit and get into some baking , card or board game playing , or puzzling . This one-on-one time can provide a space to check in on how things are going .
} Bedtime check-in : have a cuddle with a ‘ how was your day ?’ as this can often open up some dialogue . I also check in with my husband in the same way . We might be in the same house all day but may not actually speak to one another in a meaningful way until working hours are over .
Introduce a diary
Having a safe place to express yourself can be so freeing to your thoughts and potentially lead to conversations with those close to you . Ensure that your child knows that :
} their diary is private
} they can write down anything in there that they are feeling and
} it is up to them to share it . I have been surprised by how often my son will share his diary entries with me .
Airing of grievances
This is the time to just listen . I have found this method particularly effective with the six to 12 year-old range . Sometimes just being given ‘ permission ’ to download opens up the conversation .
} This is a time to just let someone vent to you and tell you every teeny tiny or large thing that is bothering them .
} No comment necessary other than the occasional ‘ I can see how frustrating that is ’ or ‘ how annoying ’. Here we are invoking the ‘ a problem shared is a problem halved ’ rule .
} At the end of the airing , you can then follow up with asking if they would like help with anything … but not until the speaker has finished . As the listener , you are not there to fix unless asked to .
HERE WE ARE INVOKING THE ‘ A PROBLEM SHARED IS A PROBLEM HALVED ’ RULE .
What kind of communication do you need at that moment ? This point is directed more at adult-toadult conversations . It is so important to let someone know what kind of conversation you would like to have with them . There is nothing more frustrating than just wanting to vent and your conversation partner starts piping up trying to fix things . Why not try framing the conversation with the following :
} ‘ I just need to vent ’ } ‘ I would like your input and help ’ } ‘ Can we set a time to talk about XYZ …’ } ‘ I don ’ t want to talk , I just need a cuddle right now ’
FEATURE ARTICLE SPRING 2020
Trial each method to see what works best for you and your conversation partners . Try them and out and soon you will find one that works for you and gets everyone chatting . As I tell my clients , have fun with it . Not every conversation needs to be hard hitting and heavy . Taking the time out to chat about the funny things can let someone know that you will be there when the time comes for a more serious topic .
YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 7