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11 Ways to Engage Your Child

A lot of moms and dads face the time when your child loses interest in being around you and only listens when it is something they want to hear.  You get grunts instead of words for answers and you feel like pulling your hair out.  What do you do? Follow the rules of engagement.

1. Stop asking open ended questions
Open ended question: What did you learn at school today?
State: Tell me about your day
The difference in their answers will surprise you.

2. Stop being so busy that you forget to listen
I am the parent that gets overwhelmed between working outside the home and trying to be everything for everyone.  I forget to listen or don't act interested in what my son tells me.  It is important to hear what he wants to say even if I am too busy or too tired. 

3. Do something they like to do with them
My son loves to play video games.  He loves to explain what is happening and what will happen next.  It makes him feel important to be able to teach me something.

4. Put your phones away
We focus so much on being available and in the know all the time that we forget to look at what is right in front of us.  Set a time every day for no technological interruptions.  Our phones can't give us all the information.

5. Have Family dinners at the table
This is the perfect time to have open communication and discuss your days.  This will not only encourage your children to open up, but also build social skills for when they are adults.

6. Turn the television off
Who doesn't love television?  We all become engrossed in the habit of flipping on the television that communication ceases.  Change it up.  Play a game, read together, or just sit and talk.  You would be surprised how much this time will mean to your children.

7.  Treat them like a kid.
There are things in life that are terrifying and ruin the innocence of our children.  There is being overprotective and there is being smart about what you share with them.  Don't include them in situations that they should not be worrying about such as money woes, current events, or even relationship struggles.  This is not their cross to bear. Every situation is different and times are changing to where kids are overburdened with stressors they should not have.  Don't deceive them, keep communication open, and most of all share on an as needed basis.

8. Remember they have feelings like you and me
No one is happy all the time.  If they are upset, angry, or very excited let them express it.  As adults we know keeping our feelings bottles can only cause more harm than good. Why would it be any different for children?

9. Encourage Them
Give credit where credit is due.  School is different than it was when we were "their age".  They face different kinds of struggles with bullying, applying for colleges, or even studying for classes.  Encourage them when they try their best and don't diminish what their best is when it isn't to your standards.  This adds more pressure and tension to your relationship with them.

10. Spend more time Talking
11. Follow your Instincts
Communication is key in any relationship.  By taking the time to talk to your child they will feel important, empowered, and willing to come to you when they are struggling or even just to talk about anything.  Listen to their words as much as you listen to their actions.  If you feel that something isn't right or that they aren't being forthcoming with information follow your instincts. 

No parent is perfect, but nobody is.  Keep communication open and you will learn more about the little person you are raising than you thought.  Remember you can do this.

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