What do I know? I know a little bit about a lot of things...but mostly I know about kids!
Currently I am working on a book about all the fun, funny, outstanding, creative, loving things "my kids" have said, done, been a part of for the last forty-five years. By "my kids" I'm talking about the munchkins, middlekins and teenkins who have waltzed thru my life. I started out as the "kool aid" mom, then the brownie leader, den mother, girl scout leader, YMCA program sponsor for assorted programs and a children's resource volunteer at our local library. Then I went to work and spent the next thirty some years working with kids as a teacher and childcare director. Just for the record, my college degree is a BA with majors in journalism and English.
What you should know if you haven't already noticed is that children are easy to talk to and more fun to listen to their stories. Often we come across as the all knowing Wizard when in fact we are flying by the seat of our pants. If you take the time to listen, a child will tell you his happy thoughts, his secrets, his funnies, his fears, his dreams. Children have a wisdom born from their experiences, what they have overheard, the tone of voice people are using and they respond accordingly. Somewhere back in time, someone talked about using all five of your senses. When you work with children, when you listen to children, when you play with children I guarantee you will.
Actually, it is easy. Find a time in your day when you can just spend some one on one time with your child or children. Uneven schedule, work loads, you can't do this. Of course you can, you get up fifteen minutes to a half-hour earlier or you go to bed a little later. You teach your kids how to set the table or do the dishes instead of feeding them to the dishwasher. You walk the dog together. It is a matter of a necessary task that you can share. It has to have consistency. This is where the fun begins. You ask a question. There is always the old standby, "What did you do in school today?" This may or not be a starter. I had a little boy, Ian whose mother asked him everyday when she picked him up from childcare, "Ian, what did you do today?" Ian would look at her halfheartedly and say, "Nothing." End of conversation. Ian's mom was persistent. One day in exasperation, Ian looked at her and pointed to the wall. "I don't know mom, there's the calendar, what did I do today?" After that mom checked the calendar and asked, "Hey Ian, did you talk about....?" He responded every time. Some of my favorites have been, "Is there a reason why your sox don't match?" "Wow, you are a colorful dude or sweetie or whatever. What's the occasion?" "What did you have for breakfast? I thought so. You seem to be wearing some of it." "What did you see on the way to school?" "How's your love life?" No matter the age that one is bound to be interesting.
We always think we just can't fit one more thing into our day, when it is one of God's greatest gifts, time. I cannot think of a time when I have regretted talking with a child. It wasn't always what I wanted to hear but it was always something that child needed to say. I'm not a psychologist, just someone who has loved talking with kids. If you have a question, ask, God knows in all that time I've had a lot of different experiences.