Guide to Conversations
How to talk with your child
Having open conversations about feelings helps to build trust, openness, and better relationships.
This guide will walk you through having a healthy conversation with tips for each part of the conversation.
Prepare for the conversation
Prepare yourself emotionally
It’s important to be emotionally prepared for the things you might hear in this conversation.
Before you talk with your child:
Spend some time thinking about the conversation and the different scenarios that might come up.
Find ways to ground yourself, like breathing exercises, so that when things get intense, you can control yourself.
Remember that this is about your child and you want to do what’s best for them.
This can help make sure that you're prepared and able to control your reactions. Stay calm, listen, and process the information they share before you respond.
Normalize talking about emotions - big or small
Talking doesn’t just have to happen when someone is upset. The more you encourage your child to talk about their emotions, the easier it will be for your child to feel like they can come to you for any reason.
A conversation doesn’t have to happen at a specific time or place, and it shouldn't feel like a big deal to the child. Try checking in when you're already spending time together, or doing an activity your child enjoys. Talk when you're in the car coming home from school, even if it's just for a few minutes, or while you're making dinner.
Have a casual and relaxed conversation. Try not to set expectations that the conversation needs to be long or intense. Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing, as opposed to receiving just yes or no answers.
Share your experiences
Share your own thoughts and feelings. This helps your child understand and realize that it’s okay to acknowledge and describe feelings. For example, you might say something like: “I was feeling frustrated about..." or "I'm really excited about..."
Before you get into conversations with your child, always be prepared to share your own thoughts and feelings too. Being open with your children can help them feel like they can be open with you too.