We all use our vehicle as a taxi to get us from one place to the next, but we often forget about the valuable time we have with our children when we are taking a short or long car ride. Each drive is an opportunity to bond and learn more about each other. So turn the radio down (good heavens, put the cell phone down if you’re driving), and take advantage of your trips in the car to start quality conversations with your children.
1. Ask open-ended questions.
It’s easy for kids to give the “yes” or “no” answers that we dread. I mean, any answer is better than none at all. But “yes” and “no” answers lack quality and depth. Try asking more specific, open-ended questions. For example:
“Could you tell me about a time you were kind today?”
“How are you feeling about (fill in the blank)?”
Remember, you can begin this when your kids are very young! I started late with my first born, and it took her a bit to catch on, but my two-year-old is already answering my questions because he’s heard me ask his big sister for so long! If you didn’t start young, remember it’s never too late!
You can do this by telling your kids what you love about them. Retell stories about a time when you were proud of them or say affirmations about who they are. Let your kids join in as well by saying:
“Tell me three things you love about yourself!” or even
“Tell me three things you love about each other!”
3. Get on their level.
It’s easy to make the conversation about YOU and the direction YOU want it to go but get on the same level as your kids! Encourage conversations like:
“Tell me about a celebrity you love and why.”
“What is your favorite TV show or book that you like to read?”
“What do YOU want to talk about?”
4. Go deep.
Conversations need to be given time, so don’t jump in the car and immediately start pressing your children for depth. This attempt will most likely push the child to be defensive and build a wall — preventing a natural conversation from occurring the next time. Instead, start by asking basic questions and telling a few personal stories updating your kids about your life and THEN attempt to go deeper. When you get to the point of depth, you can say/ask things like:
“Tell me about a time you failed today.”
“When was the last time you felt disappointed and how did you overcome?”
“What changes do you want to make in this world?
Remember that as you practice with each car ride, your kids will learn to expect quality conversations. As they grow, sometimes moments in the car are the only time you get to spend together between school and activities. Don’t let that valuable time together pass you by.
Tell us in the comments about a recent quality conversation you’ve had with your kids in the car!