How to Get Your Kids (or Anyone) to Talk to You About the Hard Stuff

  1. Don’t blow up at them about everything. On second thought, don’t blow up at them about anything.
  2. Practice #1 on the little things and they’ll come to you with the big things.

It’s not hard to see that the underlying principle is to check your own response to bad news, calm it down, and apply it consistently and liberally.

Your kids don’t know “why” they do things. You seriously expect them to answer that question? No. You’re asking it rhetorically. And you know this already, the berating “why?” makes them feel stupid, irresponsible, and untrusted. There’s pretty much nothing I love more than bearing my soul to someone who thinks I’m stupid, irresponsible, and untrusted.

Break the cycle. Let them tell you the small bad thing. Stop asking the why question. Instead, depending on where they are in life, be the parent, coach, mentor, and friend who lets them know it’s safe to make mistakes in your presence. Guide them through the experience, and help them learn so they won’t screw up out in the great big world where there are few second chances.