How to engage with a child who is not engaging with you

Children Speakin

Often when people talk about the tween or adolescent years they tend to talk about it as a period of battle and turmoil. Whilst these experiences may occur, it is also a time where your child is learning who they are and discovering their place in the world. As your child gets older, there relationship with you can sometimes change. It is during this time that relationships with peers increases in importance and their view of the world and priorities change. Within this stage of life, adolescents can be moody and it can be difficult to feel like you are communicating with them effectively or feeling part of their world. It is important to note that this can be a very normal experience and will likely get better as your adolescent gets older. Here are some tips that may make engaging with your child easier:

Listen to your child

Your child has a lot to say; however, they may not communicate their thoughts and feelings perfectly all the time. Whilst they may at times offer only grunts or monosyllabic responses, you can often learn a lot about their feelings from their behaviour. If they are not saying a lot to you, but are presenting withdrawn or frustrated, ask them how they are going. Your child may also need space and time, so pick the time when you feel they are most likely to engage with you. Don’t put pressure on them to talk. If they don’t engage with you straight away, knowing that you are there for them and that you are willing to listen, may support them to feel more comfortable sharing with you next time. When your child or adolescent does open up, remember that things that may seem trivial to you, may be big things in your child’s life. So try to listen with a non-judgmental, respectful attitude. If they feel that they are being misunderstood or judged, they may not feel as comfortable opening up to you next time.

Be mindful of your reactions and pick the right times to address key issues.

It can be difficult not to react when your child is being moody or argumentative. However, being mindful of your reactions and the potential impact on the situation can be helpful in the long run. As difficult as it may be, if you need to address an issue with your child, pick a time when you feel that they will listen and respond the best. You may not find the perfect time all the time, and there may in fact not be a perfect time, but addressing issues when you feel calm and when your child is ready to hear it, will likely result in a better outcome than if the situation was more heated

Show an interest in their interests

All kids, big or small, love talking about themselves or their interests. No doubt that your interests will be a bit different (you may not be obsessing over One Direction) but asking your child about their interest is a great way to engage on your child’s level and to get them talking. Showing a genuine interest in what they like, tells your child that you value them and that you care about the details of their life.

Spend time doing what they like

Make time to do things that they enjoy. You may find that your child is more comfortable opening up to you when they are engaged in an activity with you. They may find this situation less overwhelming and confrontational. Most of all, have fun!

If you require support or advice for engaging with your child, please contact Kids At Max on 03 9702 4447.

Written by Kids At Max – Psychologist

© 2017 Kids At Max