Conversations are key to any relationship, and even more so for kids. Every family has different traditions but everyone will agree that a healthy and open conversation channel between parents and kids is often the best way to ensure mental and emotional growth of the child.
Personally, I am a chatter bug and my daughter Gauri, is the same! I will admit that at times, I do want to ask her to stop talking and think, but I often stop myself because I realize that a kid blabbering to a parent is some sort of a luxury in today’s gadget heavy lifestyle.
If varying degrees, we are all guilty of letting the gadgets baby-sit our kids for a while. It can be for work reasons, like I sometimes let Gauri watch an episode or two of cartoon shows Disney Junior when I have a work document to finish and send off. Or for reasons purely for ones’ own sanity – like a friend of mine gives her son the iPad for half an hour daily when she comes back from work and sips her evening coffee in peace, before the dinner preps start.
TV and gadgets are not all bad, I agree, but limiting screen time is proving to be a challenge for most parents.
Another challenge today’s parents face is having a conversation with a kid who is usually distracted, thanks to gadgets and toys. I have had friends who have realized that their kids are not interested in talking to the parents during vacations and holidays, because in regular weekdays, the gadgets, books or toys are their friends because the parents have little time.
So what do we do to tackle this issue of kids who don’t engage in conversations?
The first solution is to make a lifestyle change – make time for the kids, not just quality, but also quantity matters here. Set priorities straight and make it work. However, quitting jobs and finding time is not an easy decision to make for a lot of us – for financial reasons, for careers and for various other factors. And I completely understand that. A friend’s sister staying in Mumbai is a single mother who needs to work full time to be able to pay for her son’s education and other needs. She does not have the luxury of time, and I don’t think anyone can tell her to do anything differently because she is doing the best she can.
[Read the fun Quote – Unquote Toddler Version for a dose of laughter ]
So the other solution is to instigate conversations in a way that is vetted by child counsellors and supported by industry leaders. There are quite a few methods, books, workshops for this, and though Gauri is just five right now and is quite a chatter box – touch wood – I have been following the conversation on various platforms just be to prepared if I face the same in the near future – because to be honest, I don’s ever want her to stop talking to me, or to prefer anything else to having a heart-to-heart with me. I mean, I know that is going to happen eventually when she grows us, I am not delusional – she is going to prefer books (fingers crossed) when she’s a bit older, and other things will follow – but I always want to remain her person to speak to without any filters.
But like I mentioned, I try and keep up with the industry conversation on how to ensure your kids talk to you when there are plenty of other distractions.
I recently attended one such workshop, and I want to share my experience with you.
Holiday Inn Hotels and Holiday Inn Resorts have introduced an initiative called Chatterbox Conversation Cards which is super fun way for parents and kids to have conversations during vacations, in order to encourage healthy conversations within families.
Made especially for families and young travelers from the age of 3 to 12, the Chatterbox Conversation cards are a pack of 30 conversation-prompting cards to stimulate reasoning, logic, creativity and problem solving abilities in kids.
This is essentially a pack of cards with questions that parents ask the kids, and trust me, some answers will surprise you! These questions range from What was your favorite food from our last vacation? to If you had three wishes, what would you ask for and why? – so the range is pretty great.
The question help the kid’s articulation skills, while motivating her to keep participating actively in the world around her. Along with facilitating self-expression, this round of questions also primes them to be similarly receptive towards the ideas and opinions of others. A much needed trait in today’s world, don’t you think?
From enhancing their active listening skills, to to developing a capacity for empathy as they learn how to relate to others, parents can equip their little chatterboxes with the foundations of forming positive and open relationships in their lives.
Some tips for having conversations with your kids while you travel are:
- Try asking open ended and stimulating questions
- Try is often
- Don’t be judgemental
- Don’t try to influence their answers
- Don’t show any expression of surprise, disappointment or excitement over any answer until they explain it fully, and then tackle it sensitively
- Prompt kids to analyze the questions and structure their thinking to deliver comprehensive responses
These questions are a great way to get curious chatterboxes reflecting on the wonders of the world and forming lasting travel memories. These cards are also a great way to bond over meals or at a beach.
Manvi Malhotra, founder of The Counsellor’s Clinic, said that these cards are a great way for parents who feel that in the age of smartphones they don’t have enough face-to-face time with their children. This is especially true on vacations, when it is common to see children on their phones during meal times or whilst relaxing in the hotel room.
To inspire conversations between kids and parents, Holiday Inn is offering the Chatterbox Conversation cards for complimentary usage at participating hotels and resort – so remember to ask when about it during your next stay with Holiday Inn around the world.
You can download your own set of Chatterbox Conversation cards at Little Big Travellers.
Here’s to many more conversations and travels!