conversations with kids

The Most Important 10 Seconds in Conversations with Kids

“Dad, can I tell you something?” How did the last difficult conversation go with your kid? Hard conversations with kids can be extremely tricky. But did you know you can make or break your conversations with kids in the first 10 seconds of them?

We give our kids a “first impression” every time they come to us with a difficult question, problem, or failure. As dads, we have a great opportunity to convey patience, love, and understanding in our conversations with kids. Here are 3 reasons the first 10 seconds of any conversation with your kids are the most important.

1. The first 10 seconds communicate whether you are for or against them.

Your reaction in the first 10 seconds of a conversation tells your son or daughter whether you are a safe person to talk to. As dads, we must realize our kids may have taken days to weeks mustering up the courage to talk to us. No matter what your kids may say, thank them for trusting you enough to share it. You can even encourage them by saying, “That must have taken courage to tell me. I’m proud of you.”

When our kids hear these statements, it nurtures trust. It’s human nature not to want to disappoint or anger someone. If, however, our kids find that we’re patient and understanding when that happens, we communicate this: “You’re not a problem, I want to understand your situation, and I want to help you.”

2. The first 10 seconds can set the conversation up for success.

Think about it: Have you ever been intimidated to talk to someone and worried about what he or she will think? Meeting our kids with patience, love, and a desire to understand in those first 10 seconds gives them confidence and allows them to speak freely. Many times, our kids will “test” us by only sharing what they think we want to hear or what won’t sound so bad. However, when we’re patient, we put them at ease and open up the lines of communication.

When our kids ask to tell us something, our first response should be, “Always!” Then, when our kids begin to tell us what’s on their minds, we should use responses like, “Tell me more!” or “I’m glad you told me that. Thank you for sharing that with me.” Give your kids confidence in those first 10 seconds so they can communicate clearly and openly and you can understand their entire situation.

3. The first 10 seconds determine whether future conversations happen.

I’m very confident the vast majority of us want our kids running to us when they have problems or mess up. We want them to believe we’re going to support and help them through whatever situation or circumstances they find themselves in. If in these first 10 seconds they have a poor experience or we convey we’re angry with them or don’t have the time for them, they may eventually think to themselves, “Yeah, Dad’s not for me. I better get help somewhere else.” Or worse, they’ll think they can’t get help at all.

But when we remain calm and express our love for our kids no matter what they tell us, they learn we’re always there for them and want them to talk to us. As dads, we should do everything we can to get our kids to run to us instead of away when they need help. Conversations with our kids will be difficult from time to time, but we can instill trust and confidence and foster better communication with how we spend the first 10 seconds.

Need some conversation starters to use with your kids? iMOM has 1000+.

Sound off: What do you believe helps foster open communication with your kids the most?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever been too nervous to tell me something? Why or why not?”