Why is it that it’s next to impossible to get our kids to tell us stuff? When you pick your kids up from school and ask them how their day was or what they did during the day – do you get a response similar to “I don’t remember…nothing?” I am sure all parents can relate to this and how frustrating it can be. As parents, we often feel left in the dark and just want to know more about what’s going on in their lives. We would be happy knowing the smallest point about their day, anything, but all we get is one little word, “nothing!”
Unfortunately for us, children live in the moment and it doesn’t come naturally for them to think back and recall what happened during the day. Although you may feel they are doing this on purpose to avoid the conversation or to annoy you, it’s not the case. So, how do we get our kids to open up? How can we get them to tell us what’s on their minds or what could be bothering them? How can we find out more from our kids? One tactic that I personally use with my boys and that I recommend to parents is the daily “Rose and Thorn.” It’s simple, easy, and becomes a great daily tradition to implement during family dinners, your nightly bedtime tuck in or whenever you find a quiet moment to connect.
In our home, we do our Rose and Thorn on Sunday evenings when we have family dinner and on the other nights when my husband is still at work, I do it individually with each boy during their nightly bedtime tuck in. It’s great to mix it up between being a group activity and individual, as the privacy when done alone gives them more confidence to open up on a deeper level. You will be shocked how much your kids will begin to talk freely when you give them the opportunity. Sometimes my boys will express their Rose with ideas around having family in town to visit or that daddy was home from work. Their Thorns are often physical injuries, feeling remorse towards a bad decision they made or having to say goodbye to family visitors, loss of pets, or Christmas being over. Anything counts. There’s no judgement and no ridicule. It’s a safe place for each person to speak their mind.
When you first begin doing this activity you may get answers from your kids that are short or more surface level thoughts. They may say things like, “I don’t know, nothing” or they may insist that you tell yours first. If that’s the case, DO tell them your rose and thorn. Lead by example and give them ideas. Don’t force them to share if they refuse but DO keep asking daily. Pretty soon they will open up more and begin to elaborate. They will start to think about their rose and thorn throughout their day – helping them connect their mind and body. They will be more prepared each night to share and soon it will give your child comfort in knowing they have someone who will listen to them. They will feel safe expressing their feelings of happiness, sadness, worry and more.
With this parenting tool you will soon be in the know! When problems arise with your kids they will be better equipped and confident to share with you. When your child succeeds at school you will likely hear about it. When your child is sad, lonely or in need you will have opportunities for them to open up. Rose and Thorn will help build your parent-child communication line and your child will feel confident that you are there to support them and listen. Often during the day we are too busy to really listen to our kids and they are too busy to stop and think about how their day went. Rose and Thorn is the perfect time to stop everything and simply listen to our kids. We can open our ears and put away all other distractions. Listening can be one of the most powerful parenting tools we have. Sometimes nothing needs to be said and they don’t need a response or advice. Sometimes all our kids need is for us to listen. Another great way to let your kids know that you are there to listen is to Drop Everything and Connect. Read this article for more great tips!
The last amazing point about this simple and effective communication tool, is it helps our children develop the ability to recognize gratitude and hardships. When they learn to express what made them feel good or upset during the day, they learn to differentiate between true gratefulness for succeeding in something and issues that cause them to be upset. They learn to distinguish their feelings around issues that cause physical pain like an injury or emotional pain such as loneliness, bullying, or feeling failure and the feelings of happiness and joy that bring their spirits up. Rose and Thorn helps your child connect their mind and body and be more physically aware of the feelings. At the same time, Rose and Thorn will connect you to your feelings and help you and your child grow a deeper parent-child bond.
Introduce Rose and Thorn with your family and start broadening the level of communication with your kids. The more they talk and the more you listen – the better your relationship will be. They will be more apt to talk with you as they grow and their problems grow, which is something that we all need!