One night when my daughter was around five or six years old, I read to her from a journal I’d kept during her first few years of life. I poured out my heart and revealed all of the emotions I was feeling at the time. When I finished reading, I turned out the lights and I played her favorite lullaby CD. Before I could leave the room, she grabbed my hand, pulled me close, and whispered, “Daddy, will you always love me like that?”
“Of course I will, darling,” I said. “In fact, I’ll love you even more.”
That night we both shared our vulnerabilities and our relationship has become stronger because of it.
My daughter is 12 years old now, but I still sit beside her bed to talk before she falls asleep. At first, I resisted participating in these nightly chats because I believed that my daughter was using them to extend her bedtime. But I soon realized that she was seeking connection. I couldn’t allow something as arbitrary as bedtime interfere with that.
Like me, my daughter is an introvert. We’re not much for talking and being expressive. Therefore, I’ve learned to listen when she’s in a talkative mood. It’s during those last minutes of wakefulness that I often learn the most about my daughter. She has volunteered information she would have never revealed any other time of the day. Sitting by her bedside, I’ve discovered many of her dreams, hopes, and fears. I’ve learned about stressful situations at school and joyful moments of triumph. She’s told me about ways that I’ve hurt her or things that I’ve done to make her feel embarrassed. The minutes before my daughter falls asleep seem to act as a truth serum.
Getting a child to share his or her world with you is not always easy, but I’ve learned a few techniques that have allowed my kids to open up to me. It all begins with listening. In this video from Kids in the House, I share a few more tips on how to get your child to talk to you.
Join the conversation: How do you get your children to talk to you?