How to be a parent your kids talk to

France, Ebola, school shootings, ISIS, adolescent relationships, bullying, the boogeyman and social acceptance are just some of the very real topics that our children’s developing minds are not yet ready to fully digest. But encouraging your kids to talk about their fears, challenges, problems and concerns at a young age is essential to a strong parent-child relationship and healthy emotional growth, especially as they enter their teens. Dr. Erin Leonard brings you important tips on becoming a parent that your children can talk to, insuring they have an opportunity to grow up happy, and mentally and emotionally healthy.

It is important to ask specific questions….I don’t think a parent in the world has gotten a good response from ‘how was your day’.”

How To Be A Parent Your Kids Can Talk To

• How To Start the dialogue
• Using indirect communication – How kids often are more open to initially discussing things in the car, on a walk, or other scenarios when eye contact isn’t so apparent.
• Use enquiry-based listening – Staying engaged and showing your children you are listening, not reading the paper, cooking or on your smartphone
• Set aside “Talk Time” – Frequent talks about school, their friends, their achievements and activities can help build trust and a foundation for more serious talks as necessary.

parent talk coverAbout Erin Leonard L.C.S.W., Ph.D.
Dr. Leonard oversees Counseling Services at Holy Cross College and is a practicing psychotherapist with Sonego and Associates. During her time at Children’s Memorial hospital in Chicago, she received the Shaw Allied Professionals Research Award.
She is author of several books, including Emotional Terrorism, Breaking The Chains of A Toxic Relationships and The Battle Against Juvenile Bulling. She was recently a contributing expert to for a special feature on the 12 worst habits for your mental health.

Her books are available on and on the publishers websites. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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