Fruitful conversations with anyone, let along with kids, starts with you going to them. You must vote with your feet and take time to approach them. The very next step is to ask a question that will give you some information on how they see things. Most kids would like more conversations with adults, but not the long stories. Try staying in the present and avoid those long stories from your past. Ask them questions about what they are concerned with or how you, as an adult, can be more supportive of them. I often like to ask kids who their favorite teacher is and why they are their favorite. Once they start talking, follow up their sharing with statements that will encourage them to keep going.
Phrases like, You’re excited about this! Or You seem to have put a lot of thought into that. Another might be, What else would I have to know to do this? Anything along those lines will help to draw them out and to share what they are thinking. Most of all, be a great listener and make sure that they do most of the talking. I recently had a second conversation with a young woman that I had met a few years earlier. I hadn’t seen her for years but approached her to talk with her. I started by reminding her of our conversation years ago and told her that I enjoyed that so much I was looking forward to speaking with her again. That was all it took to get her started in conversation. With just that statement, she was interested in participating.
Don’t be afraid to speak to young people that you do not know, in many cases, when approached with an interest in them or what they are doing and you will find most kids to be very receptive. One day when I was walking down the street, I came across a group of kids who had a very unusual dessert of some type. It had a crazy shape and color and fizzed when you ate it. I asked one female what that was, and immediately, she offered me a taste of it with a clean spoon. She hadn’t even taken a bit. From there conversation started and before you knew it, I was talking with the whole group.
I challenge you today to start a conversation of interest to a young person with whom you do not know and see how it goes. Leave me a comment below.
Yours for Better Parenting.