How do I keep dialogue and conversation open with my boys as they get older?
Most important: get his hands busy. Don’t plan on a lengthy verbal exchange, but do something playful together. Don’t pose direct questions, especially about serious subjects like school work, problems with social issues, or disappointments and failures in sports. Those issues will come up on their own when your son is ready.
Establish a fun, enjoyable, and often physical type relationship first. So many times in my office I get boys talking once I start tossing a squishy ball between us or walking with them over to a shelf filled with collections of rocks and fossils. Don’t sit opposite your son to try to get him talking. Direct eye contact can be threatening. Play side by side. Another great trick is to wait until night. Right before bed, ask him to share anything he wants with you – only if he wants – and assure him that this is a good time to let thoughts float out of his head so he can start the next day fresh. Tell him you do this too. You release any negative thoughts just before your head hits the pillow and it feels great.