As adults, we often joke about wanting to be a kid again, but the truth is it can be hard to navigate childhood. They desperately want to be older and do things that are out of their reach, and processing their feelings when we turn them down can be difficult. They have so many emotions but don’t always have the maturity to know what to do with them. You don’t have to be a therapist to help. As parents, we have can learn many ways to help kids express themselves in a positive way. Read on for more!
Take Them on a Trip
This might sound weird, but road trips can work magic for getting your child to really open up and talk. Consider taking them to see something fairly educational, like these three monuments, the Grand Canyon, or the White House. Family trips are something they will value for years to come, and the stories they create about them are even better. They’ll also be able to write about them in school and, of course, writing is another form of self-expression. If you can’t get a road trip on the calendar any time soon, simply ask them questions while you’re driving them in the car. There’s something about the lack of eye contact that allows them to feel free to say what they mean. Turn down the music!
Dive Into Doodles
Art therapy is a widely used tool for kids, and there’s a reason for that. It works! There is so much trapped inside their heads and those crayons often set those thoughts or feelings free. Ask them questions about the photos. “Why is Dad in the house but Mom is standing outside?” “Why does everyone have shoes on but you?” “How does such and such make you feel?” You wouldn’t believe how seemingly inane questions about their drawings can bring such enlightenment. Inspire their artistic side with one of these amazing children’s art sets.
Allow Them to Dress Themselves
Control freaks will cringe at this one! We know it’s hard, but it not only allows for self-expression but it teaches them independence. Of course, if they’re wearing something that’s not appropriate for the weather, feel free to intervene. Otherwise, though, try to refrain from commenting on their choices. What you’ll find interesting is that they likely already have a sense of their style from a young age. Do they love crazy hair, crazy loud clothes, or crazy socks? Say, “Go for it!” Take it a step further and let your kids pick out clothes that can be customized; everything from shirts to accessories is customizable. You can even make custom socks online here.
Implement Family Game Night
Family game night is a concept that’s been around for decades. Those of us who grew up in the ‘70s likely remember long and intense sessions of Monopoly, Clue, and Operation. You can kick it old school with games like this and buy new games from FatBrainToys.com or simply hop on Pinterest for plenty of “pinspiration”. You’ll find things like DIY night bowling, Minute to Win it games, and much more. Combine Art Therapy with game night by playing Pictionary! Offer prizes for things like “Best Attitude” or “Best Try” instead of awarding the winners because, as we all know, competition between siblings can get a bit heated (understatement of the year!). The best part about family game night is it’s one way to keep kids away from online games, phones, and tablets. Even if they’re not into games, you can implement nightly traditions, such as everyone pulls one question from a jar and answers it on the spot. What you’ll find out will be magical!
Cook or Bake With Them
This is another one that can be hard for those of us control freaks, but kids love being allowed in the kitchen so much. Giving them tasks like this helps them to feel important. You don’t have to make anything complicated—think cookies, mini muffins, or pancakes (in shapes for added fun!). And, of course, hand washing is a must. Beyond that, though, you can let them go crazy in their roles as resident stirrers or mixers. They will be so touched you allowed them to help, and they’re sure to chat away while they’re by your side, too. Oh, and did we mention that they are expert taste-testers?
If you’ve noticed your child has been a bit closed off as of late or even if you simply want to see her express herself a bit more, follow these tips and watch the conversation flow.