Are you worried that you might not have the words you need? Are you unsure as to how to even begin? Concerned that you'll make things worse?
You are not alone. Many parents today struggle when the time comes to initiate an important dialogue with their child. Whether you are talking about an upcoming classroom project, the school bully, the arrival of a new baby or the death of family pet there are some wonderful story books out there that can lead both you and your child into a fruitful conversation.
By reading a book on the desired topic together, parents can open up conversational doors in a non-threatening way. Here are a few steps to follow.
- Determine what the situation, problem or concern is that you want to talk to your child about.
- Ask a teacher or librarian to recommend a good book on the topic.
- Once you find the book, read it first to yourself to determine if it really says what you want it to say. Do not base your selection on title or recommendations alone; you might be disappointed.
- Find a quiet place and time to read the story to your child. When possible, have both parents involved.
- As you read along, ask simple questions to assure that your child is understanding the story line. Define any unknown vocabulary words.
- Watch how your child responds to the characters and the story plot. Listen for how your child interprets what is happening. Pay attention to their comments and reactions. When necessary, stop and answers any of their questions.
- Use the character's thoughts and feelings to address a situation.
The wolf seemed angry, do you know why?
I think that The Queen of the Playground was mean, do you?
Burt the bunny was so sad. Have you ever felt like that?
- Keep your body language relaxed and your responses open and non- judgmental.
happening without having to experience any of the emotion first hand.
The characters give words to feelings, fears or concerns that the child
can then identify with.
Make sure that you give your child adequate time to fully understand
the story, identify their concerns and respond in their own way.
- Take some time to sum the story up and, if possible, point out any correlations between the characters and story events and your child's real life events.
- When necessary or if helpful, read the story again. Always assure your child that you are there for them with words like:
I like reading with you….
This was a good story about….
Let's talk some more about….
Together we can make things better….
I Love You….