Encouraging kids to talk about what they share
Children can be reluctant to let their parents into their online world. Are there any tips to encourage children to feel confident about letting their parents be part of it?
What are you doing? – Depending on my tone of voice this question can be perceived to be nosey, curious or rude.
Perhaps If I asked this question using an approach by Marshall Rosenberg and it sounded like a request rather than a demand, you may be more likely to answer me and probably spend some time explaining why you were doing what you were doing also.
Human beings like to tell stories and engage the other person in what they are doing as it helps them feel felt (See Dan Siegels work on this), people love to listen to stories too.
In the world of digital interactions, often children can be preoccupied with their device or app and as parents when we ask the question “what are you doing” or “who are you talking to” it can sometimes feel intrusive or rude. Children don’t always want to share something they (may) perceive as either theirs or in a group activity (this feels like “my friends not yours”).
So how do you approach this as a parent?
Firstly be curious and not nosey (they are different and feel very different) and ask a question that is open, honest and shares your intention to keep them safe. This may look like the following:
“I notice you are busy/having fun/looking worried/hiding your phone and I wondered what you might be doing?, I don’t want to interrupt you I am interested and would like to keep you safe”
Be prepared for a no. (Your question may be a surprise)
If so resolve to try again in a short while.
There’s no recipe for this, so patience, understanding and making requests, not demands are probably the best ingredients to use.