Communication Tip No. 17: Time & Place (2 Essential Elements to a Good Conversation)

If you're a parent or a regular caregiver of kids, you know how frustrating conversations with kids on important topics can be. Whether it's a failing grade at school, an incident of bullying, or trying to relay sensitive news-it can be a challenge to be sure the child is listening and responding.

There are many useful tips for communicating with children and teens, but these two are absolutely essential: time and place. 

Timing: For the timing to be right to discuss something, it is first of all important that the timing works for you. Are you in the right emotional space to discuss something difficult with the child in a way that will be useful and appropriate? Do you have the actual time to give the subject the attention it needs without being interrupted or called away? 

Secondly, it is crucial that the timing works for the child as well. Are they able to listen well and respond? If the child is just getting out of school after a long day, is exhausted, or is already worked up about something else, the answer might be no. It is important, therefore, to find a time that is effective for your particular child. This might be in the morning after breakfast (if mornings aren't rushed at your house), on the way home from a sports practice or while preparing dinner together. When preparing to broach a subject, assess the time that will work best for both of you.

Place: It is key to find a place to talk where you both feel comfortable, you won't be overheard, and can give each other your full attention. Finding a place to talk without distractions is not always easy. From younger siblings listening in, to cell phone alerts going off, creating a separate place for a conversation is a necessity. That could mean taking a walk together, going out for a soda, or taking some time in the car to devote to talking to one another. 

We can't always create the ideal timing and place for having conversations with kids, but these elements certainly help. By taking the time to assess whether there is a location and time of day that is conducive to a specific conversation, you may find that you understand each other better and that the relationship is strengthened. 

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