Talking to kids: how to get them to open up

My 6-year-old will talk to me anytime about his favorite subjects: Bakugans, cars, trucks, soccer, dogs, movies he wants me to let him see, candy he wants to eat.

But when I want to have real conversations about school and life -- stuff like, What did you learn today in class? Are you getting along better with that boy? How did your teacher like your insect project? -- I get the typical one-word answers: "Nothing," "I guess," and "good."

It's not his fault. There are usually a million other distractions in the way: the TV blaring, his sister blowing bubbles in her milk at dinner, the neighbor boy visible through the window in our tree swing.

I'm not at my most attentive, either, scrambling to fix dinner or getting another load of wash in.

I've found that the best time for both of us is right before my son's bedtime, with the chores done and him tucked away all nice and calm and cozy. All of those distractions have been left outside or downstairs, with me as the main attraction. The choice is to talk go to sleep -- and my son will gladly use any excuse to stay up a little longer.

We talk about the really substantial and important feelings and events. Our family's particular religious beliefs and how it affects the way we behave and the things we do day-to-day.

With me cuddled up next to him in bed, he explains why he doesn't always like his after-school program, because they sometimes show programs or movies he doesn't like and he's afraid to speak up.

I talk about why you should never exclude other children from play or a game, and wouldn't you feel sad if other kids did that to you?

We don't chat long before my exhausted son is ready to drop off, but I discover more about my son and what's going on inside his head and life in those precious five minutes than I do over the course of the entire day.

What time of day is the best time to talk to your child? When do you have the best conversations?

Written by Cynthia Dermody for CafeMom's Big Kid Buzz