How to Talk with Your Kids in the Car
With the amount of things that can distract kids, it can be difficult to find the time to have decent conversations with them. Families often find it difficult to have the traditional sit-down dinner due to conflicting schedules. This is where using the minutes you have during car rides can help you better connect. Below are seven suggestions on how to improve those car ride convos by being intentional and fun.
- Minimize the Other Sounds
A basic suggestion for how to start a good conversation in the car would be to limit the other noises. Turn off or have the radio on very low, allowing you to focus on what the other person is saying and not what’s happening with the music. Of course keeping noises limited also includes not talking on or using cell phones. For older kids, it may be a challenge to keep them from using their phones as you drive so plan to ask everyone to put their phone in a preselected area when they get into the vehicle. No games, music, or social media means your kids can focus on the moment.
- Ask Open Ended Questions
Another way to help encourage conversation and not simply one-worded answers is in how you ask them. For example, ask open ended questions like, “What happened in school today?” Instead of, “How was school?” This type of question will lead them to speak more about the subject and elaborate with details.
- Make it a Point to Really Listen
A very important bit here, if you want to get to know your kids better, listen to them. Actually acknowledge what they are saying and don’t just respond automatically with simple phrases. When you can relate to their story or repeat a little bit of what they shared, it validates that you truly care and are actively involved in the conversation.
- Empathize but Don’t Overreact
Even if it can be hard, try not to overreact and always try to empathize with them. Overreacting doesn’t let them fully process what they are feeling before you insert yours. By empathizing (no matter how silly) and leaving them time to process their feelings, you become a confidant.
- Don’t Always Advise
Along those lines, make sure not to always give advice. You want them to feel like they can talk to you as a friend as well as an adult figure. Sometimes this can be tricky. Just ask them if they, “want your opinion on that” or “want to hear your take on it.” If they tell you no, listen.
- Joke Around
In order to build trust and great communication, joke with your kids! This can mean joking, being sarcastic, or even just flatout goofy. By not taking the situation so seriously, you are showing them that you have a multifaceted personality and that’s a positive. Oftentimes, kids will feel better joking about things that make them uncomfortable.
- Bend Some Rules
Building off of number six, let them break small rules in the car to make it like a safe space. Save the scolding for using terms like “fart” or “butthead” for outside of the car. This makes them feel like they can speak freely and that giving up their electronics isn’t so bad. Spoiling them by surprising them with something like an ice cream before dinner can also make car rides feel like a bonding time, not just obligatory questions and answers.
As with anything, be intentional. Choosing to use moments spent in the car as a family on engaging conversations can make a huge difference in strengthening relationships. By bringing in silly moments and by bending the rules slightly, kids will begin to look forward to car rides for totally different reasons.