The summer holidays are here, and that means the kids have a long break from school and are probably spending more time with family. This is a great opportunity to connect with your kids and spend more time with them. However, for some fathers, talking and having a conversation with your kids can be difficult. Kids are easily distracted, and if you don’t see them often, you may feel even more pressure to be a good parent.
Please note that these tips assume you have at least some contact with your children. We recognise that is unfortunately not the case for everyone. If you need to talk to someone, call one of our MensLine Australia counsellors at any time on 1300 78 99 78.
Ten tips to help you have a better conversation with your kids
- Start the conversation. It lets your kids know you are interested in and care about what’s happening in their lives.
- This may sound obvious, but using your child’s name will help to get their attention.
- Make eye contact with your child. This is harder these days when you are competing with your kid’s screen time, but try to get down to their level or sit at a table so you can talk and listen to each other. This signals to the child that you are interested and listening.
- Give them all of your attention if you can. It is better to start a conversation when you aren’t doing something else, like checking your phone or watching television.
- Ask open questions that don’t have a simple “yes” or “no” response. For example, instead of asking “Did you like the movie today?”, you can ask, “What was your favourite part of the movie?”
- If your child is telling a story, try not to interrupt. Open and comfortable conversations with your kids can help them to be more confident and improve your relationship.
- Schedule in some parent-child time. It can be as simple as 20 minutes before dinner to do a puzzle together. This will create a space for the child to feel relaxed and will be more likely to open up in conversation.
- Learn more about their interests, whether it is a musician or a cartoon so that you can talk about them.
- If you can, spend time with your younger kids on their own, as older siblings may do all of the talking.
- Take advantage of any conversation opportunities that arise. It could be reading a book before bed, walking to the shop, or driving to a friend’s house. You can also use this time to share something about your day.
Listening and talking to your kids is a great way to connect and improve your relationship. If you are having trouble communicating with your kids, you can call our MensLine Australia counsellors at any time on 1300 78 99 78.