One Powerful Tool to Encourage Your Child to Open Up

Karen Patten

“How was your day?” Good. “Who did you play with on the playground.” My friends. “What has Adam been up to?” Not much. It can be so frustrating trying to get your child to talk to you.

Not knowing what my son had been up to each day was so frustrating. My heart hurt and I felt like I was losing my seven year old far too soon.

Sometimes it can be harder than you expect to encourage your child to open up about their lives. I've tried lots of open-ended questions, but this simple suggestion worked wonders!

I enlisted every open-ended question I could think of to encourage my son to open up to me about  his day. I asked specific questions about his friends to make sure he knew I was genuinely interested. But, still, I got the same one or two-word responses devoid of any meaningful insight into his day.

I tried laying with him at bedtime to see if that would make it easier for him to open up. He was too exhausted to do anything but drift off to sleep.

I missed his time as a preschooler when he gleefully spilled the stories of the day. My smile was so huge hearing his stories that it made my cheeks ache. He shared all the silly, intimate details of his day. I loved knowing, not only what he had been up to, but his likes, dislikes, and how things made him feel. It’s heartbreaking when you need to know how to get a child to open up to you.

I longed to connect with my son and I bet you long to connect with your child too! I figured out a simple and loving way to encourage your child to communicate with you!

As the stories of the day got fewer and fewer, I was surprised to find that I was angry with him. I jumped to the ridiculous conclusion that he didn’t want to open up to me. Paranoid much? Uh-huh. I got those ridiculous thoughts in check quickly.

Still, sometimes I would hear, “I can’t remember.” I thought that was his quick way to shut the conversation down. I decided I would take what he was telling me at face value. I knew that my son wasn’t purposely holding back. We are deeply connected. We genuinely enjoy sharing with one another. He loves telling me things.

So what is going on with one or two-word responses or when your child doesn’t want to talk to you?

Then I realize, he’s gotten older, and his days are more rigorous! It’s not that he doesn’t want to tell me about his day – more often he’s tired and just needs a moment to re-group and re-charge instead of rehashing his day.

[bctt tweet=”Children need to recharge after a long day. Just like adults! #gentleparenting ” username=”@SpoilMy”]

I tried this tool that allows him to share so much more than just about his day, which was my original intent. But this allows him to open up about his feelings, hopes, and dreams more than I ever imagined he would.

He and I keep this tool ours and ours alone. Each morning is a surprise for him and each evening a surprise for me. But we never talk about it…which is part of what makes it so fun for him.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I may not hear about everything from his day, but I actually hear about his hopes and dreams which are so much more important to me!

I started by asking him to decorate a special notebook or pad just for the two of us. He didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but he went to work.

Once he was asleep, I wrote a message on the first page for him to read in the morning. I didn’t ask him any questions, but instead I shared some of the details of my day with him. I let him know the things that I had done during the day that made me think of him.

Next I crept into his bedroom and placed the notebook gently under his pillow for him to find in the morning.

When he found the notebook in the morning, I spotted him eagerly writing in it to respond to me! Some days, he even makes drawings or starts games in the notebook. Then he leaves the notebook under my pillow so that I find it when I go to bed.

We’ve been going back and forth sharing with one another each day. Sometimes, he writes and shares a poem. How else could that ever have happened? Certainly not if I had asked him too.

This journal was such an easy way to encourage him to share with me. He can choose what he tells me. It also models a true conversation more so that pummeling him with a barrage of questions about his day that he feels forced to answer. It allows him to be more a part of the natural give and take of conversation. It’s been such a joyous blessing for both of us.

This morning, I teared up after reading a beautiful love poem that he wrote to me. I would love to share it here, but what’s written in the journal stays in the journal!

So, now it’s your turn! I want to help you make this special connection with your child, so I’ve created super easy journal pages for you to use with your child! They are quick, simple and easy. Some have only a spot for you to write and your child to respond. But I’ve also included 20 pages with inspirational icons in the upper right corner. If you aren’t sure where to start or what to write, these are perfect! Just refer to the corner icon for inspiration.



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Hi, I’m Karen, the Atlanta mama, writer, and creator at Intentional Family Life. I’m a passionate advocate for intentional living so that you can experience all that you deserve for yourself and your family. Here, I inspire moms to chose what matters most and then to only do the things that move them closer to what matters most. Read More About Karen…

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