Pay attention to the little conversation openers your kids make and respond immediately, particularly if they’re nine years old or over.
An example of a conversation opener might be something like “I don’t like school.” You might respond with something like “What’s a thing you don’t like about school?”
With limited talk time it can be hard to hold to focus on the child’s question. Nevertheless, how you respond changes everything.
How you respond is an indication of whether your child can rely on you to talk when he needs you. Conversations started this way will be more important in the long run than the usual “What happened at school today” questions.
Young people who believe that their parents are too busy for them often look in other places when they’re emotionally needy. You need to gradually build that feeling of trust and safety.
Most parents who have close relationships with their teenagers’ attribute this to their being available. Like many teenage boys my son likes to show people how indestructible, resilient and how independent he is. It’s tempting to give lots of advice. Wrong move. I’ve found it’s much better to go with the flow of conversation. It builds rapport and has meant I’ve been there when he needs me. It’s a part of parenting you shouldn’t miss.
Taking advantage of conversation openers will help the child believe you are available when they need you. Of course you do actually have to be available. More about this later.