How to Handle Kids That Won’t Talk

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This is a common issue in the best of families, no matter how much or little money you make, no matter what kind of house you live in, etc,

The easiest way to approach this is to look at your child when they were young.  If they were quiet then, you have a child who is quiet.  If not, you have a child that is struggling to find their way in the world and holding back–for some reason it is all they know to do.  Kids make choices that keep them feeling safe and okay–that’s the way we are all wired!  So if not talking is safer than talking, you, the parents have created a system where that scenario makes sense.

Let’s take a four year old that when asked a simple questions about school, or how he feels, or what why she did what she did, responds with short, closed down answers.  ”I’m fine.”  ”Nothing.”  ”Okay.”  ”I don’t know.”  ”Who cares.”

Now imagine you are talking to your spouse or best friend and they answer the same way.  SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!  No matter who it is we want to establish empathy for how they are feeling so we can help them move through whatever is blocking them from being all they can be.  We establish empathy not by figuring out what is the problem, but rather by figuring out how the child feels.  Use the CODE

CONNECT  - You sound upset about going to school and not having any friends.

OBSERVE FEELINGS – Boy, it sure sounds like you are (unhappy, anxious, worried, sad, angry) about (whatever the subject).  Feel what your child feels without judging it.  Keep at it until you get a head nodding.  Make it fun.  ”Are you sad because we are going to Disneyland next week?”  Look for some laughs.

DISCOVER NEEDS – Ask for what it looks like for them to feel better about the situation.  ”If Jack was in your class would it make going to school more fun?” “Would you rather go back a grade so you could be in Jack’s class?”  ”Do you think you would be bored?”  ”What else would work?”

ENCOURAGE ASKING – “So, tell me what you have figured out would make you feel better about school?”  Let the child ask you and the school for what they need; it might be going back a grade!

Keeping a child’s GPS or Guided Path to Success turned on is more important than what grade they are in or what they are learning.  There is always a path to that incredible life spirit that exists in your child! Don’t give up!  The payoff comes from the teen years and up!  They will know their way!

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