Remember the song, “Summer Nights” in the musical Grease? (Click Here to watch on YouTube) Parents can learn a communication lesson from that song, a lesson that can help us talk with our children. The singers repeated a particular phrase over and over in the song “Summer Nights,” a phrase that led to more and more information being shared (sometimes more than I wanted to know). That phrase was “Tell me more, tell me more.” We may do well as parents to remember that type of phrase when speaking with our children. Rather than jumping in to give a solution, lecturing to teach the best way to handle a situation, or expounding on the important aspects of the topic, let your children “tell me more, tell me more.” Use phrases that will encourage them to speak…and take the opportunity to listen. You will get the opportunity to learn about your children that way—how they think, what or who they admire, what they dream about, what they value, etc. To get all this information, you have to learn to use phrases that encourage your children to “tell me more, tell me more.” Experiment with the phrases below to discover which ones fit your personality and which ones lead to the best results with your children. Try saying…
· “I’m listening”
· “I see”
· “I’m interested in your thoughts about that”
· “What happened next?”
· “What else happened?”
Maybe none of these sound right for you and your child. Maybe you have another phrase that works well—that’s good. Just remember to avoid slipping your ideas, your judgments, or your feelings into the response. Instead, make it all about understanding your child. Communicate your acceptance of them as a person and your respect for their story. You will discover that they talk more, share more, and even think more clearly when they can sense your interest in their thoughts and do not feel the need to defend against your ideas. By the way, if you have other phrases that encourage your child to speak, share them with us in the comment section below. The more options we have, the better!