I was recently visiting with a parent of a second grade student who was concerned because her daughter had written some inappropriate things on a paper at school. Her daughter had recently also started eating a lot after school. As we visited I was asking about the typical things that might cause a child to be experiencing an increase of stress. Her mother had no idea about any of these areas because as she stated, “She is very closed off and quiet. She just doesn’t talk to me.”
With the increase of commitments pulling parents in different directions, it seems that parents are having a harder time connecting with their children. Key conversations about events at school, with friends, and social pressures may not be occurring. As an elementary school counselor, I emphasize the importance of parents connecting and talking with their children. Beginning these crucial conversations early in life ensures that the relationship will be there when they get older. Crucial conversations would include making positive friendship choices, body image and eating, sexuality, appropriate computer and cell phone usage, the dangers of “the new drug”- pornography, cigarettes, under-age drinking, and drug usage. To the average parent each of these conversations might be daunting but if they start talking to their children at a young age they become the norm.
The suggestion I gave the parent I was visiting with was to turn it into a game. Really any game that you play with your child can be tweaked to become a talking game. Just link the roll of the dice to the number of things they have to tell you about their day or the color of the square they land on to an emotion or topic you want to talk about. Another suggestion I always give is to turn off the radio as you drive and take the time to talk. Let’s take time to reconnect with our children by talking with them.
Katrina Larsen Beddes, Elementary School Counselor, Holt Elementary, Davis School District, Clearfield City, Utah