Although you want to get closer to your son and help him understand his feelings, you won’t be able to make him talk to you, no matter how hard you try. Each question you ask will get a one-word answer, silence, or an annoyed grunt. These are five proven tips to encourage your son’s speech.
1. When he approaches to speak with you, drop everything.
Although it might seem impossible, even the most closed-off boys sometimes approach their parents to converse. These opportunities are often missed. Most boys will disguise their desire to speak in disguise. You might start with a provocative comment like “I hate my sis!” or “You always punish my brother, but you baby mine!” or “I was detained today.” This is a way to invite you to talk, hidden behind provocations. These are examples of invitations to talk hidden behind inspirations. They serve to prove to our sons that we’re ready to listen. It is tempting to react dismissively with exasperation or logical arguments or criticism. We are tempted to get angry and upset by our son’s behavior. We respond rationally, saying, “We treat you both equally.” He got a time-out this afternoon.” We are embarrassed by our son’s behavior and side with the other person. “What did I do this time?” These responses stopped the conversation from starting.
We can see that each statement is a boy expressing his feelings. We can learn a lot if we stop doing what we’re doing and do not let our initial feelings go. To respond to “I hate your sister!” with “oh…what’s happening?” invites him into the conversation. Replying to “You punish me, but you treat my brother unfairly” by responding with “so…” shows that you are open to and accepting of his feelings. Response to “I was detained today.” The child will feel welcomed even if his teacher is mean.
Recognizing the strong feelings expressed by our children as an invitation to connect, we’ll learn a lot about what your son thinks and feels.
2. Start slow and low-key.
Talking to boys and most men are complicated. A conversation that begins with “we need a talk” or with “why did you do…?” will immediately put a boy on the defensive. Ross Greene, the author of The Explosive Child, suggests this formula to start a conversation.