Are you really talking to your kids?

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  • A recent report discovered that 57% of the families they interviewed use car journeys for confidential chats with kids about problems they’re having at school or at home.

    ‘UK families spend more time together each week in the car (12 hours 49 minutes on average) than they do eating together’, says a spokesman for the Vauxhall Flexible Families report.

    According to the report, the top five confessions that emerge during car journeys are:

    * Doing something wrong at home
    * Trouble at school
    * Being bullied
    * Having lied to their parents
    * Announcing a new girlfriend/boyfriend

    Talking in the car is good because it has a dual purpose, says psychologist Conrad King. ‘You have to get into it anyway, you’re going somewhere, which means the kids don’t feel threatened. Also, you can’t maintain constant eye contact while driving, which puts kids at their ease. But keep your eye on the road, and avoid heated debates that may distract you.’

    More ways to chat

    ‘Don’t order them to go into the living room so you can have a talk because that’s too threatening,’ says Conrad King. Besides talking in the car, going for a walk or a trip to a cafĂ© are good options. ‘Watch your tone of voice,’ adds Conrad. ‘Why not say something like: If you need to chat, now’s a good time.’

    Still stuck?

    *Choose your time. Kids are unlikely to come clean about a problem if they’re tired or irritable.
    *Invite their friends round (from tots to teens) and get involved with their chat. You’d be surprised by how much comes out.
    *Don’t do all the talking. It’s important to listen carefully.
    *Use TV soaps, news, books, magazines and things that have happened to people you know to trigger conversation.

    More help and information

    – Share tips with other mums in our chat area – Find out what to do if your child is being bullied
    – Time for the big talk? Get advice on talking to your teen about sex