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Topics To Talk About With Children

6. Mind what you do with them just before they go to sleep 
What happens just before going to sleep gets processed into long-term dreams. What you say to your child just before she goes to sleep is what she will remember most. So the important message is:

  • No matter how lousy a day you have had,
  • No matter what conflicts have occurred,
  • No matter how many harsh words have been traded, 
Topics To Talk About With Children

Find time to make some peace before she goes to sleep. If you feel that in the turmoil of the day she may have forgotten that you love her, remind her. You are building a bridge of peace and connection that hopefully will reach into the next day. The old adage of "never go to sleep on a fight" is right.

7. Know their friends (and feed them) 

Any parent who knows their child's friendship group is in a powerful position. Parents of bright children need to make sure they know their child's friends and, wherever possible, their child's friends' parents.
What's the best way to get to know kids? Feed them! The barbecue may be your most powerful ally in your attempts to do this.

And the best way to get to know their friend's parents? First, never ask your own child permission to contact his friends' parents. Phone them. Introduce yourself. Every chance you get, keep introducing yourself: "Hi, I'm .... 's mom [or dad]. My name is .... "
It might sound a bit basic, but most people live busy lives, and it's not easy to remember your children's friends' parents' names. By being prepared to introduce yourself and keep on re-introducing yourself, you increase the likelihood that if there are ever problems, you will be able to join forces to discuss them.

8. Look out for conversation fuel 

Some bright kids can be too easy to talk to when they are angry and incredibly difficult to talk to when they are calm. That is, lots of words can fly around in the middle of an argument, but at the very moments when you do get a chance to build your relationship by having a relaxed chat, they can be as responsive as a house brick.

Look around for conversation fuel. If you can't find much, check in with your child's teacher(s), sports coaches, or her friends' parents. One of the easiest ways to gain fuel for conversation is to notice what television show your child especially likes and to sit down and watch it with her. Spend a few weeks watching it without commenting and then start to use the issues in the show to springboard conversations.

If one of the rituals that has slipped in your house is the family meal without the TV, radio, computer, or another electronic device blaring, turn it off, put on the answering machine, and try to start a conversation. (Of course, if this cuts across the time of the favorite TV show, it may be better to alter the timing of dinner.)

Eating together without the electronic distractions can be scary and unfamiliar for the entire family if it's been a while. One family told me they made a pact for six weeks to try to have at least one meal each day with no electronics. Their first five meals were spent in awkward, uncomfortable silence. Their sixth meal was an argument. It took three long weeks before conversation got beyond the odd grunt.

The point is to be persistent. It's easy for parents to give in to the magnetic attraction that children have for video games, computers, and televisions. Don't get brushed off by the shrugs, the "Dunno's," and the "Nothing's." To find out more, you can check out Topics To Talk About With Children.